Written and Drawn by Raegan Hasselbring, ESLLC 2017-2018
A few of the things I have learned from living off the grid:
1. Your relationships with the people around you will significantly strengthen
2. You don’t need nearly as much stuff as you think you do
3. You are tiny
The first night I ever experienced off the grid, I fully convinced myself that I was going to die; the uncertainty of having a lack of connection to the outside world scared me. The only way I could get out of the backcountry was to put myself in a life-threatening situation and have a helicopter summoned to evacuate me, but no way was I going to take on that fat price tag. So, I just accepted my fear and eventually it became joy.
Slowly, the lack of connection became an escape. The qualms of the real world could no longer affect me; it was like riding on a constant high where the only worries I had were about what I was going to eat that night or if that lightning would actually strike me. I bonded over the simplicity of life with those who I was travelling with. As much of a pain as it was to deal with, we all suffered through cold rains in the desert and soaked sleeping bags with no regrets pinned on our choice to attend this program.
Living out of a bag for two weeks essentially forced me to understand how little humans need to survive as well as the importance of cleaning up after yourself. All we had was food, water, clothes (hopefully), and a “shelter” which wasn’t really a shelter because it was not water proof and it was actually only a tarp, not even a tent. Basically, we slept under the equivalent of a slightly water-resistant bedsheet. Anyway, I digress, my point is that we consume way more than we need and we have an incredible tendency to leave a path of destruction and debris everywhere we go. If I look over at my desk at this moment I would bet money that 100% of the things on the desk are not imperative to my survival and they’re there right now because I haven’t taken the time to clean them up. Those items may improve my quality of life, but I do not need them, and some things – especially that fidget spinner – are just a waste.
My senior year of high school I created a charcoal drawing series that tried to encapsulate the values I learned from backpacking. My goal was to enhance the viewer’s perspective of the landscape to make the humans in the picture appear much less significant than the nature around them. I also wanted to show how little we needed to live in such a harsh environment. Below is the first piece of my series titled Canyonlands; it is made exclusively with charcoal: