By Jelelle Awen
All of my life I have been plugged into the grids. These grids provided in an anonymous way, all that I needed of electricity, water, food, and gas. I flipped the switch and currents coursed through. I turned the tap and water flowed out. I squeezed the handle and gas pumped out. I cruised the aisle of supermarkets and food was harvested. Flipping and turning, squeezing and cruising, that was all. I never thought much about this process until a few years ago when I began to increase my awareness of the environmental consequences of our modern lifestyles. Connecting the dots from resource allocation to resource acquisition to resource exploitation, awakened me to how all of these things came to me and the impact on the world. Also, I became more convinced that a major global collapse of easy access to these finite resources is inevitable. Therefore, becoming conscious and self sustainable related to these resources became crucial to me and led to the decision to move to an offgrid ranch in Mexico.
I think there can be a romanticism related to becoming self sustainable. A romanticism that can lead to inaction fueled by overwhelm and denial. What I have discovered after living in a sustainable way related to these resources is that this lifestyle offers many gifts, both sentimental and pragmatic. Once the crucial paradigm shift happens that separates us from our fusion with the grids, our adaptable and resourceful human instinct for survival can kick in. We have been greatly separated from this instinct by the insular reality of our industrial society. In order to truly live sustainably, we have to reconnect with both our gut and our heart.
Here on the ranch, we live without city water and city electricity. But, we get to live with wonderfully nourishing water from underground springs and any electricity we need is provided by the sun’s rays. We live without internet and cell phones. But, we get to live incredible sunsets, hikes in the woods, cleansing dips in the river, spontaneous horseback rides, evening bon fires, encounters with many creatures both wanted and not (scorpions-not, geckos- yes). We live without grocery stores and restaurants. But, we get to live with fresh bananas cut in a bunch from the tree; papayas prodded down from their lofty birch by bamboo poles; incredible superfoods noni and morenga harvested whenever we want to; lemons and limes picked from organic trees. And, we get to live with crafting and alchemizing our own organic garden spaces with a combination of book smarts and soul retrieved knowledge.
There are still things that feel challenging to give up, but we are finding our way. The most difficult for me has been refrigeration. My whole life I’ve had access to cold food, another thing that I never thought about. Open the fridge door, and there it was. We have one solar panel and four good batteries, which allow us to charge our devices (kindles and computers), use some appliances (blender, crock pot, hot water kettle), and light some twinkle lights and lamps. But refrigerators take a lot of juice, so, we decided to see how it would be to live without one. We are vegan, so our refrigeration needs are lower than people who eat meat and dairy. We’ve been using two zeer pots(evaporative cooler pots made out of clay) that were already here on the ranch and we find that they keep leftovers, beers, and wine somewhat cold. But it’s been an adjustment for sure.
I didn’t use the internet regularly until I was in my 20s. I grew up without it and my imagination flourished because of it. I was outdoors most of the time and when I couldn’t be, I would create elaborate play worlds out of basements and bedrooms. Like most everyone else in western culture, I got deeply into the internet and even most recently spent many hours online creating and keeping our blog and website up to date. It had become my creative playground and I have moments for sure where I miss that outlet for my creativity. But, also, I feel that the internet becomes yet another grid that we connect to, that we plug into without being conscious of it and that there are consequences to it, especially doing it as often as so many do. The internet is an alternative reality. It encourages us to leave our present, physical reality to engage in a surreal and alternative one.
I have been online once in the last few weeks and that was for only a couple of hours. We have to travel two hours into town right now to get online. There are rumors that satellite internet connections are coming to the area where the ranch is located. I am hoping actually that it doesn’t, at least not for a while. I have been living without internet. But, I have living with much more awareness and connection to every present moment and more engagement with others, the incredibly nourishing natural setting around me, and other venues for my creative expression.
I feel even more appreciative of the gifts being offgrid have brought me and what it will mean when and if the grids collapse altogether. There won’t be much sense of that here as all the systems that we have created self sustainably will not be affected much by a global industrial collapse.
Jelelle Awen is co-creator and facilitator of the SoulFullHeart Way Of Life. Go here to connect with Jelelle on facebook. Visit the SoulFullHeart website for more information about virtual sessions with her.