The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Blogger

Reader Contribution by Cam Mather
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I came up with this blog title and thought I’d better explain it. “The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Loneliness_of_the_Long_Distance_Runner)
is a book that I’ve never read, but which I often think about when I’m
doing something solitary. Back when I lived in the city and needed
exercise I would go running or cycling, and the title of this book spoke
to me. I look back on those days now that I’ve got so much “real” stuff
to do, and the thought of having to perform some activity in order to
get exercise that really doesn’t accomplish anything is very foreign to
me.

When I looked up the book I discovered that it was written in
1959, the year I was born! Cue the theme music from “The Twilight Zone”…
‘Do do do do, do do do do… According to “The Celestine Prophecy” it is
important to recognize that coincidences may have deep meaning. So I’m
using this coincidence as an excuse to buy a lottery ticket for tonight.
Now if only my mom would come to me in a dream and give me the six
winning numbers all would be well.

But I digress, as I often seem
to do in these blogs. So I was thinking about how blogging is a very
solitary thing, like long distance running. It’s just you and your train
of thought, which in my case is terrifying. It’s just more of “The
World According to Cam” which some of my family members like to mock me
for. But some of them do read my blog and I think eventually they just
sort of assume that since they know what’s going on in my life they
don’t have to bother to communicate with me about what’s going on in
their life. This is fine. I don’t mind the solitary life. But it can be a
very one-way street.

This is why Michelle and I love the comments
we get on our blogs. We read every one and we really, REALLY,
appreciate everyone who responds, good or bad, and shares their
perspective. Since Mother Earth News started reposting our blog our
regular readership has gone up significantly, and while that’s great,
it’s still the feedback we get from your comments, which make this blog
in large part worthwhile, so please keep it up.

For people who take the time to post comments, we are very grateful. We also appreciate everyone who reads our blogs regularly.

I
was also thinking about how blogging may be good for my state of mind. I
read a study recently that said that writing is a good way to relieve
stress for a lot of people. I think this is the case with me. When I
blog about being overwhelmed with the garden or some other component of
our off-grid lifestyle, we get comments from others going through the
same thing or offering encouragement to stay the course and it really
helps.

The other thing about writing is that I think it can really
help you to appreciate your life. Michelle and I have finished writing
our book “Little House Off The Grid – Our Family’s Journey to Self-Sufficiency.” Amazon has it listed already and they are taking pre-orders! We’d better get cracking!

We
decided to chronicle our journey from our fairly typical suburban
lifestyle to one of independence in the woods off the grid. And as our
HelpXer Melissa pointed out, it’s a “Narrative Non-Fiction” which is
very popular right now! I know I always read books like this when I was
still living in the city and dreaming about moving to the country. My
favorite TV show for years was “Northern Exposure” about a quirky
village in Alaska and the lives of the people in it. Now I live near a
village just like that called “Tamworth” and I know lots of wonderful
people in town and you know, it’s pretty great. And of course, many of
them know me. I’m that off-grid solar guy who dressed up as Super Solar
Man for the Canada Day Parade and an LED-lit Xmas tree in the Santa
Claus Parade. I think my most popular idea though was when I pulled a
solar-powered bubble machine along the parade route. It’s like I’m
trying to become a character on Northern Exposure!

As we work
through the final edits of the book before we pass it off to be edited, I
am reminded about what a fantastic journey this has been. There have
been many highs and many lows, but all in all, it’s been a blast. And
now that the systems are all working well and we “get” the whole energy
thing, it is one of the most gratifying things I’ve ever done in my
life. Well, other than raising two fantastic daughters. Oh, and
publishing “The Renewable Energy Handbook” which has been a huge motivator for thousands of people. Living off grid is really a dream come true.

One
of the most important parts of the book is when we share the “lows”
that we have experienced. We have had many “challenges” (see, I don’t
call them problems, isn’t that positive!) that have had a pretty jarring
impact on our lives. Communication, either via phone or internet has
probably been one of the biggest, so it has not been a complete joy ride
by any means. But the lows have just made the highs, higher. This is
very much like my personality. Michelle is very even keeled, never too
up or never too down. Somedays I can be bouncing off the walls with glee
one minute and then ready to jump in front a train the next. It’s a
testament to Michelle’s temperament that she’s been able to handle my
personality for 30+ years.

One thing that I’ll say for a manic
personality like mine is that those lows make the highs much better. And
since my nearest neighbors are 4 miles away, I can come out of the
office on a high and sing “I hope you had the time of your life” by
Green Day at the top my lungs with no hesitance that someone will hear
me. And I must say, on those days when I’m in one of those singing’ at
the top of my lungs days, frankly I wouldn’t care if someone, or a crowd
of people was listening. Pavarotti I am not. Happy I am. At least at
that moment.

And that was the great thing about writing our new
book. I was forced to go back and think about my time in suburbia and
how badly I wanted out. And I thought about how many times since then
I’ve climbed the small hill where our first wind turbine was and looked
down at our house on a cold winter’s night. The house is brilliantly lit
up inside with lights powered by the sun that shone that day and
charged our batteries. The house is warm from the wood that I harvested
sustainably from the property, and the root cellar and freezer are full
of last summer’s harvest, and the bookcases are lined with books I’ve
read or plan to read, and there is nowhere else on the planet I can
possible imagine myself living. “Challenges” be banished from my
consciousness. I am living where I want to, how I want, in a place I was
meant to live. Tonight, at this moment, the universe has aligned itself
perfectly.

For more information about Cam Mather or his books please visit www.cammather.com or www.aztext.com