David Pennington
by David Pennington
Posted July 15, 2022

For thousands of years, our ancestors traveled all over the world and saw sights we can only imagine seeing today. They survived inclement weather and disasters, got lost, endured terrible cooking, and encountered rude people – all while living off the grid.

When all of that was over, they didn’t exactly have a grid to get back on. They just blew out their candles and went to bed.

Today, generations later, we plug in our devices next to our bed at night time and lose our minds when we can’t connect to the wifi (who doesn’t have free wifi nowadays? The nerve!). Every screen around us constantly refreshes, meaning we are never truly caught up. News networks run around the clock and continuously find something new to cover or share their opinion on. There is always a new TV show everyone is talking about that you haven’t seen, and every week another bestseller you haven’t read.

Suddenly, keeping up with what is happening is akin to having a homework assignment that never ends.

The solution feels like an easy one: book a vacation. Load up the RV, hit the open road, and spend a week with your toes in the sand – how could that possibly go wrong? Maybe the free cable available on your hotel TV or the seemingly inescapable cell phone service. Is a vacation really a vacation if all of the stuff that stressed you out at home follow you on the road?

Maybe it’s time for more than a vacation – maybe it’s time to go totally off the grid. More than a “social media detox” or turning your phone off for a while, but giving up on electricity entirely. Or a camping trip that features a full-out roughing it in the woods, without your cellphone.

With the pace of the world today, this idea isn’t crazy or unfeasible, it could be just what the doctor ordered.

Self-Reliance and Mental Health

Going off the grid typically means not plugging into any sort of utility – electricity, water, sewage. If you need something, you make it yourself. Want to eat? I hope you took the time to plant a garden! In our modern times, with food as simple as the grocery store and water readily available out of pretty much any tap, it is easy to forget how hard it can be to nourish ourselves. Inversely, with so much news from all around the world being delivered to us constantly through our cell phones, it can feel like nothing we contribute can matter.

Jumping off the grid for a little while resets your barometer of how easy it is to help yourself. By understanding what you are capable of doing with your own two hands, you can quickly gain confidence and equip yourself with better tools to handle modern challenges. You may not be able to solve all of the world’s problems, but you can at least take care of yourself.

The Beauty in Being Bored

When was the last time you were truly, wholly, and entirely bored out of your mind? There is infinite content available to each of us nowadays, and so long as we keep swiping and tapping, we will always have something new to occupy our minds. Chances are, it has been so long since you have been bored, that you likely forgot what it feels like.

There is a benefit to idleness – allowing yourself to be bored, without any sort of outside distraction or stimulus, your brain falls into a “default mode.” You may know it better as letting your “mind wander.” While in this state, your cognitive processes go through their usual paces and start processing information. Sometimes this results in silly ideas or daydreams that don’t mean much, other times it can bring you a “Eureka” moment when you finally determine the solution to a problem you’ve been working on.

When you’re off the grid, the opportunity for default mode is all around you.

No Distractions, More Noticing

Without a screen in your face, your eyes have something else to do. When there aren’t TVs running or lights flickering, and the noise fades away, you start to notice things. Maybe it is something that has always been there but wasn’t big enough to see before (maybe a new freckle?), Or maybe it is the stars that are always in the night sky, it’s just been so long since you’ve looked up to see them?

Seeing new things around you and taking notice of what had been hiding in the shadows beyond the screen allows you to change your perception. Without the distraction of modern life, you can see the things you have overlooked or gain a deeper understanding of how they have impacted you. You’d be surprised how your worldview can change after you spend a night picking constellations out of the sky.

David Pennington


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