Off the grid

16 Dec

Off the Grid


He went off the grid on a Tuesday. It wasn’t a planned event. It was more of a spur-of-the-moment thing. He announced it on his Facebook page in the form of a sort of meme. He created a jpeg with a grid background which spread from the foreground to a vanishing point on the horizon line. Against that grid he pasted in large black letters, I’m going off the grid for a while, and posted it.

Then he signed off his Facebook, and closed his iPhone down entirely.

Off the grid. Entirely.

Why he did it, he wasn’t sure. Maybe it was in lieu of posting some sad-sack meme that read IF YOU LIKE ME, LIKE THIS POST.

He was a bit down.

But it was the holidays, and that was to be expected. His children were scattered several hours away in several directions, and he was a two-time loser in marriage, so perhaps the curse of Christmas had descended upon him.

He wasn’t sure.

But he was partly curious who and how people would try to get in contact with him. Perhaps someone would think he had gone off the deep end and call up the local police to check in on him. Nah. He doubted that. He imagined that if he had offed himself in some way or fashion it would be literally weeks before his smelly and decaying body would be discovered — and that by a neighbor who noticed the stench.

The real question was how long could he last? A day? Two?

He was determined to endure for at least a week. The problem was that it was December, and less than ten days before Christmas. Was that a fair test? Or did he expect at least one or two of his children would email or text with a list of Christmas wishes?

No one had asked what he was doing for Christmas. There were no invitations. No “why don’t you plan to drive down here and join us?”

He was at the age when driving down there and joining them was more of a hassle than not. It was all a mass-confusion atmosphere. Kids screaming, dogs barking, food being slapped onto fine china and wine filling seldom-used wine glasses.

“You got so-and-so a gift card for $70 and all I got was …”

Ho- ho-ho.

Even the most meaningful gift he gave, which was to his grandson, was unappreciated. It had to do with his grandfather, who annually wrapped a bag of walnuts in aluminum foil, and stuck a bow on it, as his gift. The grandfather knew that he was going to be showered with a downpour of gifts from parents, aunts and uncles. He had no desire to add to the bounty of stuff. But that gift, that bag of walnuts, had been the one gift missed since the grandfather died. So, he tried to pass that message on to his own grandson, who he didn’t think got the message.

Off the grid.

He not sure what that meant to his family. For him and his dog, it meant nothing at all. Nothing had changed. He took the dog out three times a day to pee and poop, and fed and watered him. The dog jumped up on the bed at night and curled up on the end of the very large and vacuous king-size bed.

He thought being off the grid really made little to no difference in the lives of his family, his friends, or the world at large. Certainly the world at large carried on like a spinning top, careening here and there. An upcoming election year, he knew his vote carried little to no impact. The majority of candidates were very scary, yet because he preached to his offspring that their vote is important, he knew he would have to hold his nose and cast one next November. Being off the grid does not affect the asinine statements any of the candidates spout as they deceive the electorate.

And his contribution to the economy was next to nil, being retired. He’d shot his wad and his wad was like the bottom of a seat in the old movie theaters, one of many wads stuck there over the years.

His legacy? Ha! Maybe it should be “Do as I say … not as I have done!”

Off the grid.

The question is what value does any legacy have? His Dad, who certainly impacted his life — albeit in a way that produced no fruit — is now hardly a memory to anyone but his children. Even his grandchildren have lost that sharpness of his image in their minds. And the grandchildren or great-grandchildren? Forgetaboutit.

His belief is being off the grid is not going to make a difference one way or other. All is vanity, said Solomon. Solomon! The wisest king of Israel! So wise God gave him pretty much everything in terms of wealth and wisdom. Vanity, he called it in his later years.

He couldn’t in all conscience expect more than that. His children have their lives. Their children. Their goals and aspirations. Their challenges.

All the more reason to go off the grid. Just for a while. Even though it’s Christmas. He didn’t think it would amount to much of a difference in either his life or theirs. He maintained the deep hope it actually might make a difference. But reality says otherwise. So, off the grid he went.


Copyright © 2015, Lawrence S. Marsden

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