You know, when I first started Off Grid World I thought I’d be living off grid soon. I wanted to move off grid. I was fed up with the current system, was in a financial bind (homeless), and had no where to go. I was living with friends, separated from my girlfriend and my daughter, and needed to get up off my ass and do something that could provide a solid foundation and stable life for my child. I had a big plan on how to do it, how to make the move off grid, to live sustainably, generate my own power, build my own cabin and grow my own food. Now (2017), 5 years later I’m still not off grid. I ask myself why that is and many reasons (or excuses) pop into my head. It’s been a long tough road and I probably could have moved off grid a many times, really anytime during the past 5 years but it’s not that simple. At least for me, it was not as simple as I thought it would be. I’m writing this for multiple reasons, not the least of which is I’m kicking myself for letting the many opportunities slip through my fingers.
Somewhere along the line I lost track of my goals. I let the business dictate to me what I was going to do.
I did well. Very well. I pulled myself out of the financial hole and out of homelessness. I sold everything I owned (had no choice because I needed money to survive). I the saved money I made, did odd jobs, and traveled over 5000 miles to be with my family.
I pulled myself up by my bootstraps all the while going through unimaginable depression. I had literally lost everything near and dear to me. The relationship with my girlfriend, whom I was going to marry was over. I was separated from my daughter by thousands of miles. Lost my business, my car, and all my belongings. Belongings, material possessions really mean nothing in the scheme of things. Losing everything taught me that’s it’s just stuff and it can be replaced. What cannot be replaced is family. I lost sight of my goals due to a bad relationship. It took years, but things crumbled slowly around me, and within a few years everything collapsed.
Then I was alone, broke and homeless. It’s not a good feeling. You don’t know what you’re going to do. Panic creeps in and you have to do everything you can to hold it together and not lose your composure and sanity. When you lose everything and hit rock bottom it’s very difficult to find the strength to move forward.
I moved from California back to my home state of Florida. I had family there and I had a plan. I would sell my childhood possessions and raise enough money to move to South Dakota where my daughter was.
So I set to work. I stayed with a childhood friend after deciding not to stay with my family. I won’t go into detail about that because it’s very personal and it hurts to think about, but suffice it to say my childhood was not a happy one. The abuses I suffered in my household were not something I would wish on anyone. I thought I could suck it up and swallow my pride, but my family didn’t. They never changed. I did, but they were stuck in their little toxic world of negativity, contempt and disrespect.
I was an outsider in my own family and never felt like I belonged. The abuse I suffered under my father’s hand was unimaginably painful, both physically and emotionally. But, I still loved my family very deeply. They were after all my family. You can’t replace family. Right?
My parents were not in good health and I made the decision to forgive them and my sister for how they treated me. I wanted to say goodbye to them. They of course didn’t realize that was the reason I went to them. After a long and painful process and much thought I had made the difficult choice to cut ties with them for good. I was a father now, and after a lifetime of abuse and toxic negativity I could not subject my daughter to that. I would not. I refused to allow my daughter to be a part of their lives due to their lifestyles and negative attitudes. I did not take the decision lightly. I wanted desperately for my family to be whole, to be accepted for who I am, rather than being ostracized, alienated, and abused. I promised myself I would never put my child in that situation. So I went to my parents place gathered all my belongings that were stored there in their garage for years, and started selling them off to raise money to make the move.
It took 6 weeks but I did it. When I was done I had enough money to start a new life. During that time I tried to make peace with my family, but they just didn’t get it and refused to change for the better. I told them how much they hurt me, how alienated they made me feel with their harsh words and judgement. We didn’t discuss the abuse because it was just something we didn’t talk about. They have always been very critical of the things I did. Probably because they did not understand who I was.
I made the visit as pleasant as I could. But things were not good. They just didn’t understand. My dad was a construction worker and it’s all he knew, and he resented me for not going into the construction trade. He was also Army Special Forces and taught me from a young age to hunt, fish, camp and survive in the wilderness. He had a dream of having a cabin in the mountains one day. A humble place where he could live off the land and live out his life in peace and enjoy nature.
Amazingly, through all the toxic negativity he had and the abuse he inflicted on my and my sister, somehow he taught me the value of life and an appreciation for nature and the natural world that transcended money and what it could buy. Material possessions meant nothing. He taught me that everything in life can be replaced but family, and that family is the most important thing in life.
Which is why it was extremely difficult for me to make the decision to cut ties. It seems bad from an outside perspective, to turn your back on your own family. I struggled with the decision for over a year, but it had to be done. It had to be done because of the one thing my father taught me that is most important about family. You must protect them.
My daughter was my family now. She comes before everything. It would be irresponsible for me to allow her to be subjected to my parent’s and sister’s toxicity. Words cannot describe how bad it was, and I refused to allow my daughter to be exposed to it, even for a moment.
So, I said my goodbyes to them, packed my things into two bags and got on a bus headed for my new life and my baby girl. Nothing would stop me from providing for her and protecting her. Nothing could keep me from giving her a good life.
After 3 days on a bus I arrived in South Dakota. It was a long rough trip, but I was here.
I started my new life. It took 3 months to find a good job and I lived off the money I saved. I rented a little cabin by a lake and it was good. Then I found an apartment. I had my own place, transportation, a stable job and was making a decent living. I had reconnected with my daughter and things started looking up.
After 6 months I had started a new company and was doing well enough to quit my job and work full time on my own business. I bought a new (used) Jeep and hired some people to work for me. Things were going very well indeed.
Then slowly I got complacent. I started drifting back into the system. You know, the system of material things, money, big screen TV, Xbox, video games, the latest cell phone, fancy dinners out, lots of money spent on things that don’t matter. Somehow along the way I let myself get pulled back into the system and then slowly I started losing sight of my original goals to move off grid.
Business was good, life was good, I was making great money, had a successful business, had lots of things, but I still was not happy. Something was missing. So I decided it was time to start dating again. After my breakup it was over a year before I felt like dating anyone. I felt I needed to focus on my life and build a stable foundation for my daughter. So that’s what I focused on. That’s what I did.
But that nagging feeling kept creeping back in. That I wasn’t doing enough to make my life and that of my child’s more fulfilling. I had a stable income, a good apartment, a nice vehicle, food on the table, and all sorts of material things. I thought I was doing it right, that I could just fill the void of unhappiness in my life with things. I bought my daughter all kinds of toys and nice clothes (at the discount store of course). But none of that made me happy. We were stable. My daughter was safe and in a loving, caring household. But even that wasn’t enough to make me happy.
Why!? Why was I feeling this way? We had everything we needed and more. Everything was great. Why was I not happy? Was I expecting too much? Was I not doing what I was supposed to do? What was the problem?
Then I figured it out. I was not happy because I lost sight of my original goals. Not the stable foundation of course, because I accomplished that.
My original goal was to build my own off grid homestead. To make the move off grid and live sustainably. To build my own cabin with the natural materials on my land. To grow my own food, fruits and vegetables and hunt for meat. To teach my daughter the value of life and an appreciation of nature like my father taught me. I wanted to live off the grid and provide that for my daughter, but I was not moving forward toward my goals anymore. I became stagnant, stuck in the quagmire and muck of the system of consumerism.
Over time I became less and less happy. Even resentful of the situation. A situation I had to admit, if I was being honest with myself, that I put myself in. I had no one to blame for my unhappiness but myself.
I let the business go, I let myself go, I let everything go. I stopped working toward my goals because I was lost and couldn’t decide what to do. I was slipping, and I continued to slip into the place that I once pulled myself out of. What the hell was my problem!? Why couldn’t I find the motivation anymore? Where did it go?
I didn’t like being stuck in a place I didn’t like. I resented having to be here in South Dakota. I wanted to be somewhere else. I hated it. I resented it with a passion. Though beautiful, SD is not really a place I wanted to put down roots. But I had to be here because it’s where my child is. Everything I was doing I thought I was doing for her. In the beginning that was true. But after I reached the goal of providing a stable home for her, I got sucked deep into the consumer system again and lost sight of my path.
I let myself slide so much it put me in a bad financial position again. So bad that I’m probably going to lose my apartment, and all my things. Things that really don’t matter to me, but it’s the loss (maybe) of a stable home for my baby girl. I have no one to blame but myself for that. It’s tough to admit your faults and bad decisions. I got carried away and let everything go. Now I’m in danger of losing it all. Again.
All because I was not happy. It was stupid. It was irresponsible. Here I am. In that place. That place that I once pulled myself up and out of. A place I thought I’d never be again.
Why am I saying all this? Why am I writing an article and publishing it publicly for all to read?
REASON 1: For my daughter. For my family. For our happiness. For our health. To provide my family with the true things that really matter. Stability. Sustainability. Long term.
REASON 2: Because I’m done! I’m done playing the game. I’m done with the system. I’m done with living paycheck to paycheck. I’m done with consumerism. I’m done with material things. I’m done playing the game that everyone wants the world to play.
REASON 3: Because I hope that my story will motivate and inspire people to do the same. To motivate others to make the move off grid, to build a new and better more fulfilling life. To inspire others to create a sustainable living system that their family can benefit from.
I pulled myself out of homelessness and helplessness to build a wildly successful and profitable business. I worked hard and built something that has inspired millions of people all over the world.
I also wrote this to apologize to my people, subscribers, followers, fans, and the millions of people that have enjoyed my writings and the writings of others on OGW over the years. I’m sorry I let you guys down. I stopped caring. I stopped working hard. I didn’t do what needed to be done. I failed to provide the information and delivery of the content as I originally planned, and all because I felt sorry for myself and got lost in the system. For that I apologize. Sincerely and from the bottom of my heart. I pledge from this day forward I will never go down that road again.
I call myself a “Wannabe” because I wanted to move off grid but didn’t because I got caught up in the system. I failed myself and my family in that regard. I lost sight of where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do.
Off Grid World is the foundation of my original goals. It’s a mechanism of communication and inspiration. Full of motivational stories, ideas, designs and goals for living sustainably. I created Off Grid World to help others make the move off grid. I created OGW to share my ideas and dreams and to educate others. To share inspirational stories of others who have made their living off the grid.
We should all live off the grid. Sustainably. Grow our own food, build our own homes, and share our stories with others and teach them to others so that they may also be able to achieve their own off grid dreams.
I created Off Grid World to help people achieve their off grid goals and to live the sustainable lifestyle.
I’m going back to my original goals.
I’m going off grid!
Story by Eric Wichman
Founder, Off Grid World