Discover more from Love Off Grid
Bug-Out vs. All-In
Committing to a Lifestyle.
Not every prepper lives off grid, and not everyone who lives off grid is a prepper.
That last part came as a surprise to us when we went off grid. We assumed that anyone living 25 miles or more from town, more than 15 miles from the nearest power pole, and way beyond any kind of road maintenance whatsoever would be somewhat self-sufficient. Boy, were we wrong.
Remote as we are, we still have neighbors who depend on weekly grocery deliveries via snowmobile. This winter, a guy we’d never seen before showed up making deliveries of *whatever* to whomever has the means to pay. He earns some extra cash and gets an excuse to play on his snowmobile. Good for him. Congrats to this savvy entrepreneur for recognizing a need and filling it, but woe to the neighbors who need it. What if he hadn’t come along? Point being, not everyone living off grid is a prepper.
But this isn’t about the neighbors…
This is about being prepared, and that conspiracy-laden, oft-misunderstood moniker, “Prepper”.
Thanks to shows like Doomsday Preppers and so many others, prepping has become part of the national lexicon. In its most basic sense, it describes people who stock emergency supplies so that they can care for themselves instead of relying on the government or you to do it for them. This is a noble and rational goal. It means one less family dependant on the government (which is really your tax dollars) to save them in the event of an emergency.
No different, really, than having insurance for your home, your car, or your health, except it’s insurance that you can eat. Pretty basic. In my mind, having at least one month’s worth of food is not prepping - it’s just common sense. However, few people - even those who think of themselves as responsible, upstanding citizens - even have two weeks worth.
There are a few, though, preparing for the eventualities of war, economic collapse and/or extreme social unrest. Their preps go way beyond the basics of food, water, and batteries for the flashlight, and they’re absolutely legitimate.
It doesn’t take a tin-foil hat to anticipate these threats, only a brief glance at history. Putting aside the lens of “American Exceptionalism” reveals a range of events that have happened and will happen again: “Bail-In”, “Hyperinflation”, “Holodomor”.
This level of prepper has gotten past the notion that they are somehow special or exempt from the horrific tragedies that have befallen others in the past. These preppers know that, below the superficialities and conveniences of our current culture, humans haven’t changed. We all need to eat, drink, sleep, and be warm and dry. When these basic needs go unfulfilled for more than a few days, tenuous human “civilization” breaks down.
Some city-dwelling preppers opt to establish a bug-out. A bug-out is a place out of town where they plan to escape when SHTF. They may still have a job in the city; they may have children going to school; they may have a mortgage and car payments that they just can’t miss, so they prep “on the side”. They allocate a percentage of their income to all the what-ifs they can imagine and spend weekends and holidays preparing for all eventualities.
And they wait.
They stay on top of the news - alt and mainstream - so they might catch that bit of information that could save their lives. They’re so very ready. Ready for their other life to start… Their real life.
And they wait.
Time passes and the edginess of constant vigilance begins to take its toll. They become worn-down from the waiting, the constant anticipating. Conversations with family and friends grow tense with sarcasm and ridicule.
And they wait.
The stress and anxiety of constant vigilance, of preparing and waiting, is exhausting. It’s demoralizing. And its supposed to be.
I think, like the wacky show Doomsday Preppers, the fatigue of prepping for an unknown eventuality is meant to wear down the spirits of those desiring another way of life. The dread is drawn out to the point that most people lose interest and throw their hands up in futility, rejoining the herd.
I remember when “the news” came on television at 6PM and 11PM. That’s a far cry from today’s 24/7, doom and gloom in rapid-fire succession with flashing colors and ticker-tape “news extras” rolling at the bottom of the screen. Just try and keep up - I dare you!
In this 24/7 news-frantic climate where every event is “the worst ever”, prepping is the most natural response in the world. Responding by doing something is always better, psychologically, than being frozen in fear. Or frozen in denial.
But, I want to talk about another way - a proactive way - of doing something. I want to talk about designing and pursuing the life you imagine, instead of reacting to events that are determined by others, out of your control.
I want to talk about walking away.
When John and I started prepping in 2020, both of us still had jobs. We had a really cool house that we loved - along with a mortgage we did not love - but we were happy with life. We both had cars and car payments (in fact, John had just bought a very awesome Camaro in Feb. 2020).
In March, the lockdowns came and he started working from home. The world closed shop and that very cool car sat in the garage. The payments were still due, whether he drove it or not. Cha-ching… Cha-ching… It started to feel like a waste.
When the masks came out, I had an eerie feeling that this wasn’t going away. No stranger to Event 201 and its role in the tip-toe toward tyranny, I knew that crises (both natural and engineered) are always used to usher in bigger agendas. 911 part duex.
The time had come to head out.
We began searching for property within a 10-hour radius from our house and jobs. You can read about that adventure here.
Our initial plan was to keep working, have that all-important bug-out, and just “be ready”. But that all changed with the mandates.
Every prepper has a line in the sand - some moral or practical line beyond which they will not cross. I’d like to say that every person has a line, but the past couple years have proven that a fallacy. Anyway, that was our line and cue to walk away.
I won’t go into the financial or logistical details here, because that’s not the point. Ask away in the comment section, if you’re interested. My point is, John and I thought long and hard about the life we wanted more than the life we didn’t want. True, the line in the sand was an impetus, but we were moving toward a thing - an idea - more than we were moving away.
Instead of reacting in fear, we chose to act with positivity, adventure and faith.
Like we do when we plan, John and I broke out the brainstorming notebook, filled our coffee mugs and sat down to imagine. To visualize. We listed all the things we value - big and small - and worked out plans to have more of that.
Guess what? The Camaro wasn’t even on the list.
So what made the list? Time, ultimately. Time together, time to do projects, time outdoors - basically time spent on things we determine - not time spent working for someone else for money to pay for things we’ve been told we’re supposed to want.
Turns out, to us, time is gold. Time and freedom.
And, we decided, if absolutely none of the crises we anticipated came along, we’d still be living our best lives.
With that mindset, we changed everything.
After nearly three years of elbow-grease and sweat, we’re potato-farmers with chickens. John went from driving a Camaro to driving a tractor, and I went from planter-boxes of petunias to greenhouses bursting with vegetables.
Happily, we have zero debt, not because we won a lottery but because we exchanged the stress of having shiny things for the peace of owning what we need.
And our stress level has dropped like FTX stock.
We’re not ignorant of world-happenings, but we don’t watch news either. Come what will - and it will - there’s no plan to implement. It already is.
Ideally, someone will happen upon our place weeks after the EMP strikes and find us digging potatoes, totally oblivious of the apocalypse. Wouldn’t that be sweet?
Meanwhile, I understand the urge to bug-out because I’ve been there. The urge to cling to the security of your “normal life” while building a just-in-case alternative seems like a safe bet, but it can pull you in two directions. It can wear you down and it can divide your attention. And, divided, you are easily conquered.
I encourage you to move toward the life you want, not out of fear, but with faith. Focus on the things you value deeply and don’t let anyone else’s opinion stand in your way. People discount what they cannot have and fearful people tend to project their own fears onto others. Your bravery exposes their weakness.
When you compare other prepper’s situations, take what information is useful and focus on the common ground: our deep love of freedom. Freedom that does not infringe on another’s, the freedom to be ourselves, and the freedom to walk away.