Why I Don't Date Guys Who Want to Live Off-Grid (Even Though I Wouldn't Mind Living Off-Grid)
I'm on some online dating sites and I often get messages from guys all over the US and Canada that go something like this (this is a made-up conglomerate):
Hi There, You have a very interesting profile! I think we have a lot in common! My life dream is to be an organic farmer/homesteader/permaculturalist/nomadic goat herder/beekeeper. I'm hoping to buy land someday. I really want to to grow all my own chemical-free food and live off the grid. I can no longer justify living in a way that doesn't align with my beliefs. I value community, resilience, and self-sufficiency. I am very skeptical of technology and not optimistic about where this world is headed, but nature is my religion and I think getting back into relationship with the earth is the solution to most of the world's problems. -forestlover1029
Contrary to many people's impressions of me, this kind of message is a huge red flag. Now I'm not saying that someone couldn't write something kinda like this and be a sane, healthy, integrated person, but the fact is 95% of the people who write this are not. They are deeply wounded and seeking salvation by running away from society and also projecting their struggle onto "the environment". As a side note, they often won't ever achieve their dream of owning a farm because they are uncomfortable with money and capitalism altogether and lack any business or marketing sense.
When I encounter someone like this, you bet your grass-fed buckwheat I'm looking to see if they've already had any kind of success in the world. I'm determining if they are idealistic dreamers who just whine about how its impossible to own land unless you were born into money, or they actually have a concrete plan for manifesting their goals. I'm looking to see if they have an open heart, or are dark, twisted, and angry, with a chip on their shoulder. I'm also looking to see if they are “teachable”. Some people are open to considering new ways of looking at the world and loosening up some of their more unhelpful ideals, and some aren't.
There is an argument that meat eaters use against vegetarians and vegans that goes something like, “You can't help the animals by ignoring them.” The logic is that many of these people are vegan because they are against animal cruelty and factory farming. However, if they were to vote their their dollars for humanely raised meat products or start farms they would be doing more of a service to the animals than simply abandoning meat culture altogether. I don't know how to true that is, but I think the logic in general applies to most environmental and social concerns. You can do more good by being integrated with society, leveraging its tools and technologies, and influencing it with the goods and services you buy and offer than by walking away from it altogether, even though integration feels like compromising or selling out. You aren't selling out if the ideas you were buying into were misguided to begin with.
I recently read the memoir North of Normal: A Memoir of My Wilderness Childhood, My Unusual Family, and How I Survived Both by Cea Sunrise Person, whose grandfather, Dick Person, moved her whole family into teepees in the Canadian wilderness in the 1970's. Aside from the rampant drug abuse this guy sounds like any number of my acquaintances from the rewilding/primitive skills world. He met his wife while wearing homemade moccasins and always shat squatting. He believed gut health was the solution to all problems, ran a survival school, and surrounded himself with idealistic young disciples, all while scorning the government and society. (Disclosure: If you choose to read this book, it is a gripping read, but it is mostly about a fucked-up hippie childhood full of drugs, sex, and poverty and not so much about the wilderness).
Now this was a guy born what? 70-80 years ago? The meme never changes. There have been back-to-the-landers in every age. Some small percentage of them are living out their truth, their purpose, but a lot of them are just seeking salvation and will never find it where they are looking. It is quite possible while they are running around in buckskins and dancing around the fire their soul wants to be designing wedding dresses and conducting orchestras. It's time to start questioning the meme.
I think there are ways to be an engaged and engaging nomadic goat herder, tending the wild for optimal biodiversity, teaching respect and love for our fellow plant and animal beings, and providing healthy foods to the local community and I also think there are ways in which being a nomadic goat herder is nothing more than the escapist fantasy of a “revolutionary” who can't hack it.
The truth is I love organic gardening and permaculture. Actually, along with hiking, it's my number one hobby. And if I had the money I would definitely install solar panels and a rainwater catchment system on my house. It only makes sense out here in the SW desert. Some bees for pollination would be nice. I also wouldn't mind a home with a little more acreage than I have (which is none. I live on a .2 acre lot). In fact as a super sensitive person it is nice and kind of important to have a buffer from the sounds and smells and energies of the neighbors. Its also extremely important for me to avoid chemicals, and healthy food is my main medicine.
The fact is my dream home might look a lot like the dream home of one of these dudes who write to me. But sustainability isn't the center of my life, spirituality is, and I'm open to living in any way, anywhere the universe calls me. I say on one of my dating profiles that my ideal type is an “enlightened farmer or carpenter...like Jesus!” I think most people who read this assume that they are enlightened, that is, they assume that being “alternative” and aware of global problems and unhappy with the status quo means they are “aware” and "awake". But actually my ideal mate is someone who doesn't subscribe to the dogma, but just happens to be into down-to-earth, calloused hands, holistic kinda of things, but understands that there is no saving the environment, there is only saving yourself, there is no environment, there are only projections of the mind. I dream of meeting someone who understands that raising individual consciousness and the evolution of the soul is more important for the earth than recycling, carbon footprints, and eating local. Sure, that stuff needs to happen, but true consciousness makes it happen. I seek someone who WILL compromise their ideals when their ideals are hindering their growth. If this describes you, please feel free to email me on my contact page ;)
-Emily, The Super Sensitive Human