Walking the less trodden path

A few days ago, I came across an article about people who went off the grid. According to the author, this movement where people decide to get away from the shackles and burdens of modern life and just live simply with nature’s resources is slowly getting traction in Europe and North America. In fact, there are websites catering to off gridders or those who are thinking of turning their backs away from modern life.

Indeed, if you think about it, especially those who are so busy working day by day with hardly the time to rest, who do not find it appealing to have a life in which you wake up to the sound of the rooster early in the morning with the warm sunlight streaming from your window or to the soft pitter-pattering of the rain instead of being awakened by the insistent ringing of your alarm clock, your body still tired from the previous day’s work?

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Who would not want having a hearty breakfast with fruits and vegetables picked from your yard, with root crops newly dug from the fertile earth, and eggs collected from your own hens, instead of the cup of hot coffee that you gulp hurriedly before going to work in the morning?

Who would not like to spend your days doing what you love to do such as writing or painting or gardening, or any other activity, without the worries of a deadline? Or without your boss barking orders at you? Or sitting in front of your office computer until the time the brilliance of the sunset was long gone and the people at their homes have finished having dinners with their families?

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If we feel energized and rejuvenated when we commune with nature, why don’t we choose a life where we are always with nature, instead of just trying to squeeze spending time with nature in our constantly busy schedule?

I could come up with more questions, juxtaposing the two scenarios but now, let’s try to compare the two situations by asking more questions.

Are you willing to give up the comforts of technology? The same article that I referred to in the first paragraph states that giving up electricity is one of the major adjustments needed.

Are you willing to forego receiving a regular salary that allows you buy the clothes that you want, the food that you like/need, and the fascinating technological gadgets that get sleekier and better? Would you want to let go of the opportunity to develop your skills professionally?

Would you be willing to cut ties with your “connections”, who are your friends and acquaintances from work, from the events you have attended, from your child’s school, or from the communities you grew up with, your church mates, your organization mates, even your exercise or grocery buddies? What about your children or future children’s access to education and healthcare?

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How about the legal rights to the properties you own? Are you willing to move out of your house and the comfort and warmth it offers and venture into building a house all by yourself in an off-grid community when there’s a challenge in getting the materials and the permits?

There are indeed more questions than answers on this topic. And not having tried the latter nor having conducted an extensive study on the issue, I am not in any authority to say that the leap to an off-grid community was a great move or an impulsive decision brought about by the frustrations of a modern, constantly digitally-connected and perennially rushing life. Then there are the stories of those who came back to traditional living after trying an off-grid lifestyle for a few years.

One great insight came from an off-gridder who said their lifestyle is an application of self-sufficiency and living in harmony with nature. And that they’re not envisioning a world where all people will leave modern life behind since governments, cities and power sources are still necessary; but that they’re showing an alternate way to live.

What do you think about this issue? At one point, have you considered living off the grid being so tired and frustrated with modern life? Would you consider it?


Related to this topic, I would like to feature a wonderful poem titled “Sapagkat Palagi Tayong Nagmamadali” (Because We Are Always In A Hurry) written by my friend and former co-teacher, Mark Anthony Salvador, with the original artwork by Honeylaine Arcilla. This poem was already published in October 2017 in Liwayway, Philippines’ oldest national language magazine.

“Naiiwan natin sa hindi na nahalong kape
ang mga munting piraso
ng ating pagkatao.
(We leave in our unstirred coffee tiny bits of our humanity.)

SAPAGKAT PALAGI TAYONG NAGMAMADALI

Hindi na tayo kumakanta kung naliligo,

hindi na halos nakikipagtawanan kung kumakain,

hindi na kinakausap ang sarili sa salamin.

Hindi na natin tanda

kung kailan huling pinagmasdan

ang dapithapon at bukangliwayway,

kung kailan huling ikinagalak

ang biglaa’t malakas na ulan.

Wala na tayong panahong magbasa

ng itinalang mga libro

o magsayaw kung umaga

sa masiglang tugtog sa radyo.

Hindi na tayo nakikipagkumustahan

sa mga kapatid at kaibigan.

Nalimutan na natin ang rikit

ng payak at libreng mga bagay.

Nagmamadaling makina na

ang turing natin sa buhay.

At sa bawat pagsalubong natin

nang patakbo

sa paparating na dyip,

sagsag na paglakad sa pagpasok sa trabaho,

naiiwan natin sa hindi na nahalong kape

ang mga munting piraso

ng ating pagkatao.

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