The what's next phase...
A few years ago, Mario started a personal quest of figuring out what's next for us in life. We were a couple of years away from reaching our 50s and all that initiative felt like the logical step of when you hit a psychological milestone.
As he was reading, watching videos, documentaries on Netflix, writing to or calling random people on the phone to ask questions, I kept wondering:
Is he going through the infamous midlife crisis?
Then one day one of our kids at lunch asked him the question
why are you trying to retire so early?
You didn't have to be a mindreader to capture the surprise on his face and body language. He adjusted on the chair, grabbed his glass, took a sip as who's about to reveal the meaning of life, and said:
You have to fight until the last breath. Don't ever quit but keep adapting for the better. Retiring doesn't exist. So... No.
Our oldest looked like "Okaaay.... that was a statement" our youngest smiled and said "Ok. I will remember that" and moved on in talking about "what's for dinner tonight?". Yes, she asks questions about the next meal while currently consuming a meal a few hours before the next one. Long story, don't ask...
I am naturally & weirdly curious, so I followed up:
He felt the pressure of all three of us looking at him but he was still not saying anything, just smiling at us softly. Margot dropped the negotiation bomb "I will make you an apple cake. Like right now!" And the flood gates were wide opened. Here's what he said:
We don't pick the parents. We end up doing a job because we need money to function in society and a lot of other "forced" choices that are driven by a system not really by our desire. We're mildly in control of most of our life.
And yes, he did the air quotes and got flack from all of us at the same time 😁 - Love my girls!
For the vast majority of people being part of the matrix is not a problem, "it is what it is" but for creative people, innovators, hackers, makers, they always wonder "am I getting the best deal that I can from my life?"
And with that line, and the air quotes, all three of us stayed pretty quiet and start really paying attention. He was in the zone so he didn't notice that he got us thinking.
When it occurred to me, I thought: if I had the chance of reconfiguring my own system, reboot for a better deal. Would I do it?! I didn't have the answer so I start doing research to have pros/cons to make a call. You soon will be off to college and I think if I don't take the leap then I will have regrets later. Assuming that my current deal isn't good enough.
I don't remember who of us asked: You want to move into a cave? And his reply was pretty unshakeable, as who has really got a conviction or some blind faith.
At this point, we were on him like a third-degree interview. So what this stuff you are researching is aiming to, we were all wondering. And again with all conviction he said:
We need money to function but accumulating wealth with the idea that doing so you will have a more comfortable end of line experience simply reduces your current freedom. By the time you can enjoy your weath you are too old... I am trying to figure out if there's a way of creating something off-grid. Less to own and more to enjoy. With the right amount of compromises, like I can't compromised lack of the Internet.
Stephanie said: Amazon is life. Margot snorted out on the comment and we all laughed like kids with too much sugar on end.
Two years later COVID-19 made clear that my husband is often not understood, because of his visionary abilities, and yet almost never is wrong on something is so fond of.
We created a brand "The bLife Movement" to document our story and guide others that feel in a similar way or just want to experiment with the idea of an off-grid lifestyle with a modern twist. This post kicks off the Saturday column topic to educate and broadcast what we uncover about off-grid communities around the planet.
What does it mean to live off-grid?
That is what we're going to be talking about today. I've asked around and from the answers, I have gathered, there is a lot of confusion out there about what it means to live off-grid. Some people think that if you're gonna live off-grid you have to live like a caveman; cooking your food over an open fire and wearing nothing but animal skins.
Others seem to think that you have to live in a log cabin that you made with your own hands out in the woods like Shawn James does for the last 3 years. While you have no contact with the rest of society. Being a true hermit.
Let's clear things out
The pure definition of off-grid is
Cultural associations often give a different twist to the meaning of a word. By the definition of the American dictionary, off-grid stands for not use public infrastructure but by social general acceptance, people often associate off-grid with excessive minimalistic lifestyles and are deprived of common modern comforts.
No running water. Cleaning your bottom with leaves and the exaggerations can continue based on how much comfort you have been surrounded growing up. If you were born on a farm, you wouldn't be surprised that some of your chickens occasionally roam into your kitchen. But if you spent most of your life in a major city and in a wealthy family you would be aberrant to the idea of only one toilet.
A Connected Hermit??
The living off-grid has so many idiosyncrasies in today's world that a Wikipedia page should be added for "connected hermit". How can being off-grid be so popular if that way of life is truly being disconnected from society? How does a noobie learn how to build this or that or not die from drinking tainted water? Not without knowledge and nowadays that knowledge comes straight from the Internet.
You know... that thing that is connected... to the grid!
This new meaning of being off-grid has evolved over time and not just because we have more technology at our disposal but because, if you have only access to saltwater and you need drinkable water with no clue on how to build with little a desalinator. Then you are either reading this from the pearly gates or from the source of knowledge, the Internet.
As you can see from this representation below things have changed quite a bit over time and now we're in a place in time, where off-grid means:
Less [money] is more [time] and I can experience a sense of community through the Internet so when I want to be alone, I just pull the plug.
It doesn't mean that you need to hate your neighbor and the government to go off-grid. Or that you are a cheap bastard that doesn't want to pay taxes. It just means that you want to be in a different way of controlling your freedom. Financial freedom, time, and in essence where you put your efforts. And that lifestyle gives you either the illusion of that or true happiness.
At this point, a picture is painted about what is going on in the world of people seeking more peace, freedom, financial independence while they do what they love. If you look at what is happening in the tech industry some people want to return to the office while others are fighting to continue to work from home. Because they realized that they can spend more quality time with their families without compromising with the ugly commuting or other constraints of the system.
In the same fashion, there is a cluster of people that are seeking venues where they can do what they desire on their own terms. Those who have an employer that allows them to work from remote has literally hit jackpot, who wants to be his on employer starts a YouTube channel and leverages other modern economy options, while they work on their homestead.
Therefore, the modern definition of off-grid that we propose is as such
Off-grid is a lifestyle where individuals cherry-pick from the grid what is convenient to their way of life. And how much control they decide to give up.
The term grid is a historical element, probably anchored into an era when the government was evil (still is 😄) and unruly undressed and long hairy people would choose to live isolated.
We think that the new grid meaning here stems from the fact that thanks to the Internet; knowledge flows from everywhere and everyone can be part of a community without being all in the same place. Like in a city.
We have chosen a path that in the months behind us clearly point to the evidence that we did the right thing and that we have stricken the right balance in this new evolution of the term off-grid As Bob Dilan used to sing:
The times are changin'
Since every lifestyle is different so as the reasons that lead people to want to seek avenues were to experience their version of off-grid, we will dedicate an article, every Saturday to explore what off-grid communities are doing around the world.
Our first candidate for this new column is Martins Johnson with a YouTube channel of over 340K subscribers and they bring home up to 6K a month.
They have an interesting story and facing the off-grid challenges and balance than the most. I will dive deep next Saturday.
🌴 Have a bLife moment, I am doing it as we speak #truestory 🤙🏽