Short Story: My Off-the-grid Experience
Ah! The memory of my greatest off the grid adventure still lingers after all these years...
I am a certified solitary wanderer. I find no pleasure in the crowd and I am easily deterred by common social norm called “small talk”. I am not a snob, no. I guess I am just my own person. I always feel nauseous around people. And after a series of “try’s and fail’s” on being the normal social human being I am supposed to be, I decided to just go my own way and limit the opportunities for socialization. I’ve been on and off the grid multiple times in the past (I still do) and I love every moment of it.
It was 5 years ago. I resigned from my lucrative corporate job to live off the grid for some time. The monotony of daily life and bustles of the city wore me out to the point where I just thought “I couldn’t take this anymore”. I notified my family and one close friend of my plans and then I packed my bag and went off to an island. The island was distant enough that there is no electricity on it but still close enough to other places so I can get my supplies for sustenance when necessary. I slept in a tent for weeks surrounded by nature. There were pine trees all over the place, one small stream on the side and a vast turquoise-blue ocean at the front. Oh I loved how the grayish white sand felt so soft under my feet! I reveled in the absence of comfort and modern conveniences. I yearned for a distinct smell of grass in the morning (something you will never get in the city) and I relished waking up to the sound of birds perched on trees. The sound of waves crashing against the shore was just too heavenly and it rejuvenated my senses.
I only brought a few set of clothes with me, a towel, sleeping bag, small pillow, mosquito repellent, sunscreen, few canned goods and instant noodles, few good books (I love Wilbur Smith), pen and a notebook, a small knife and a few big boxes of match sticks. I did have a small camera with charged batteries that can last for a few days just for keeping memories. My phone was off the whole time and I couldn’t care less. I wasn’t a slave of technology so it was easy for me. I don’t have hundreds or thousands of friends on Facebook and Instagram who would probably miss me. Honestly, I knew they wouldn’t even notice my absence.
Fortunately, there was a potable water pump on the island so water was never a problem for me. There were also campers and tourists on the island but they weren’t as crazy to think of staying there longer than a few days. Every afternoon, I would gather some sticks to be used the next day for cooking and grilling. I knew how to make fire. How hard could it be when you have dried sticks and a match? And every morning right before sunrise, I would walk by the shore and help the fishermen in hauling their nets for their fresh catch of the day. In return, they would happily give me a sizeable fish or crab or squid that I was so happy to grill. What a feast! I was literally living the hermit life on a beautiful island on my own and I was thriving! I never ran out of things to do. I read books, I wrote when I had sudden inspiration, I swam in the sea, I climbed the hills, I made sand castles, and when I was alone, I could literally think of running naked and no one would be lucky enough to see what a marvelous being I was. At the end of the day, I would gaze upon the night sky and I was always amazed how clear and bright it seemed on that island. I was literally staring up at a cloudless sky with zillions of stars and constellations.
After six weeks on the island, I decided to go back to civilization. I knew I was no longer the same person. I was more tanned, hair a bit longer (and grown in some other parts which I would normally find uncomfortable), lost a bit of weight maybe but more so, there was a different glimmer in my eyes. I was more confident in myself and more comfortable in my own skin. Living alone on that remote island has taught me that there is nothing to fear. It was so liberating! It made me realize that technology often handicaps us into being overly dependent that we forget how to truly live in the moment. Living off the grid once in a while invigorates our natural instincts to be one with the wild. With all the time that I had, not a minute was wasted in nonsensical things. I was more productive on that island than I ever was in the city. I didn’t engage in intimidating small talks but I did connect with the locals. There were no endless and monotonous conversations but plenty of genuine smiles. When you live off the grid for some time, you learn that life is not about surviving but it is all about living.
Some people completely go offline and live in total digital darkness. They don’t go back to civilization anymore because they have learned to live on their own without any help from the government (electricity, medical care, potable running water, insurance etc.) These people have found the ultimate secret to being self-reliant and are their own geniuses to have discovered the different ways to harness nature on their own. Their lifestyle demonstrates what it means to really live off the grid.
As for me, it may take a while for me to follow the ultimate off-the-grid lifestyle. For now, I am content to unplug, go offline and disconnect from society once in a while.
© 2018 Jennifer Gonzales