Entertainment: reading, radio, word games, TV (1-hour per kid per week), animals, nature. How do you currently fill your spare time? Is it with things that are time wasters or things that are productive? How do you entertain yourself when living off-grid?
Without electricity and/or internet, many people today would feel extremely deprived. Recently I visited Cuba to find a country without much internet access and the people filled the streets with music, dance, talk, playing soccer, laughter, and human interaction.
Currently, I have been without internet for about 4 days and the withdrawals are intense. I feel disconnected from the world and afloat. I hadn’t realized how interdependent on the internet I have become.
Not having the internet has given me time for reflection, contemplation and planning. I have used this time to lay out 15 articles I would like to write for Mother Earth News. I feel I am not a very good writer but also feel the compelling need to get to writing some of what I now know to be a very unique upbringing.
Growing up, everything we did tended to take awhile, so we didn’t seem to have much time to “waste." We hauled water for ourselves and our animals, fed the animals and ourselves, and generally always found things that needed fixing or building.
My brother and I were always tinkering with bicycles, my sisters always spending lots of time with their horses, my dad working on the truck with my brother or building something new for the animals, my mom cooking or working in the garden. We tended to do things together as many hands make light work.
Also, since we didn’t stay up very late, we didn’t have many extra hours to waste. I went to bed at dark and woke up at daylight normally, although I do remember times that I would be so engrossed in a book that I would stay up all night reading it and not realize it until 5:30 a.m. or so when my dad would wake up to say get to sleep.
Being able to read well has served me in my pursuit of knowledge. I still read 2 or 3 books a week and maybe watch one show a month on the internet. My love of reading has distilled in me high levels of knowledge on myriad subjects. I still love reading and learning. Books are readily accessible and us kids would study and read about our interests.
We had a good battery-operated short-wave radio. I grew up with our whole family sitting around listening to variety radio shows like Prairie Home Companion or Whaddaya Know while we read or did patchwork or needlework or knitted or played a card or board game.
I remember people’s astonishment when they stopped us in our covered wagon to talk and dad would turn down the volume on the shortwave where we were listening to the BBC from Europe or a radio show from the middle east. I guess they thought because we were traveling low tech with the horses, we also shunned all other technologies.
Currently I have a solar-powered and hand-crank short-wave radio that I can use or I stream on my phone either podcasts or radio stations, like my favorite station in Brazil.
I grew up not watching TV and I don't watch TV now, although recently I did go over to a friends house for a political debate party. I remember our family’s first television was a little portable 4-inch black-and-white one that we ran off of the cigarette lighter plug on dad’s truck. We would set the TV on the hood of the truck to watch our show. We were only allowed 1hour of TV per kid and I remember the shenanigans trying to get the other kids to watch your show so you wouldn’t use up your hour but rather they would.
Later in life, I ended up going through a period of watching TV nonstop for 3 or 4 months — I guess to get it out of my system. I would say the only disadvantage of not watching much television is people quote from movies and TV shows a lot in regular day-to-day life. Many jokes are based on these same things.
The first movie I saw in the movie theatre was with a group of 12 or so teenagers. We went and saw Running Man when I was I think about 11, and I was not prepared to have my senses so assaulted with such intensity that I was a bit shell shocked and I had minor anxiety attacks from loud noises for a few weeks. I also had a nightmare of being chased by a chainsaw-wielding man.
We don’t think how TV affects children, but I am glad that I wasn’t exposed to very much movie or TV chaos.
When I was younger, I remember being given a small like matchbox car and I ended up spending hours in the woods under a tree that had a lot of moss around it pulling up the moss to make roads, building houses out of sticks and moss, and generally building a whole town. I don’t remember actually driving the car through my town much at all, but I used the car as a catalyst for my imagination to build a whole town.
My house had a fire station, police station, library, many houses, a playground (that was hard to build the miniature swing and see-saw), but I don’t remember building a school. I don’t think my imaginary town would have a school.
Have you ever wondered why we park in a driveway and drive on a parkway? Funny quirks in language such as that were an everyday game with us.
A great pastime for me was my goats. I pictured myself as an old timey goat herder tending to my flock. Most of the time we didn’t have fences, so I would either tether the goats or would herd them with a stick and throwing stones in the air to fall in front of the wandering goat to frighten it back into the herd. We cleaned with goats many a property of exotic plants that were taking over and killing the trees like kudzu or honey suckle.
Our father left us kids with the ability to see fun in everything, to know that there is always something to do, to play word games, to have an ability to create our own fun.
What do you do for fun that is not just time wasters ?I look forward everyday to the interactions I have on my Living Off Grid, Really!?!? Facebook page and hope you will join the discussion there. Stay energized.
Aur Beck has lived completely off-grid for over 35 years. He has traveled with his family through 24 states and 14,000 recorded miles by horse-drawn wagon. Aur is a presenter at The Climate Reality Project, a fellow addict at Oil Addicts Anonymous International and a talk show co-host at WDBX Community Radio for Southern Illinois 91.1 FM. Find him on the Living Off Grid, Really!?!? Facebook page, and read all of Aur's MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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