I was watching cable TV at someone’s house this afternoon. I gutted my own cable TV service a while back (another story, another post) and I’m stuck with the Basic circa-1978 channel lineup.
However I found myself watching this Travel Channel show, Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, a curious little show that can satisfy your vicarious wanderlust craving through his wild global escapades.
The “Hawaii” episode was on. Ostensibly, it seems Bourdain’s schtick is “off the beaten track” kind of tourism. He doesn’t seem to dwell on the touristy stuff and he eschews the 5-star treatment. Cool approach, I dig it.
So while he was in Hawaii he tracked down this really goofy character, forget his name…but this guy had lived on the islands for 20 years and he made his home in this isolated and idyllic little 2-story house which was laying patiently in the path of an approaching lava flow. Whereas everyone had abandoned this section of the island years previously, this dude continued to run a bed and breakfast amidst the smoking black pools of hardened lava. You would expect Hawaii to present a tropical and luscious green leafy landscape, but all you saw from this guy’s B and B was a landscape of black, smoky slopes. Roads were impassable and many just ended abruptly; the terrain was broken and melted and red hot death seemed to threaten behind every rock.
Basically, he was the last man standing in this tropical paradise-turned-Apocalyptic aftermath while stubbornly clinging to this isolated and Godforsaken chunk of tarred landscape.
When he appeared on camera with Bourdain, his social withdrawal was very apparent. It was obvious the guy hadn’t carried a full conversation for years and his enunciation and volume were most assuredly not made-for-TV. My heart went out to him as it does to all self-avowed loners, especially the ones like this who take solitude to nearly inhuman boundaries.
Bourdain, during the interview, even alluded to the fact he had “fallen of the grid” which, to say the least, was the understatement of the year.
I had nothing but feelings of sympathetic fondness for the guy. I’ve often romanticized and played with the fantasy that I will one day fall off the grid myself, opt out of this chaotic society and house myself up in some Unabomber shed in the middle of an isolated Northwest forest amidst the redwoods and Sasquatch. Fend for myself, depend on no one for anything. Human interaction whittled to barely existent.
I got to thinking…is it possible to fall off the grid while living a “respectable” existence here in modern, post-industrial society? While governmental and corporate organizations do their damned hardest to infiltrate every aspect of our lives, even those who are unwilling or uninterested?