The Cabin Notebook

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In danger of failing out of school, Aric Allen conned his way up to a dilapidated cabin in the mountains of the Tonto National Forest for college credit. He planned to spend 10 weeks in total solitude, hoping to write a novel. 

“I was flooded with the feeling of a field of a magnetic field … plugged into the full spectrum of light. I thought, ‘Oh my god, this is amazing. I have to stay here and stay in this place,’” Aric Allen says of finding peace in a meditative state. Photo courtesy of Aric Allen. 

“I had no electricity, I had one wood stove, no phone, no toilet. There was an outhouse. … I was going to be completely isolated for 10 weeks. … I was going to write a novel. I didn't have an outline of a novel, an idea for a novel, I’d never written part of a novel or even a decent short story,” he says.  

Instead, he collected his thoughts in a spiral-bound notebook. The pages reveal a time of youth-filled panic and loneliness, and “a lot of notebook pages thinking about women.” 

After spending 10 weeks completely alone in a cabin in his youth, Aric Allen found a way to stillness with meditation. He says, “I tried [meditation] again the next day, and I never worried about losing my shit like that. And I've never been worried about going there again.” Photo courtesy of Aric Allen. 

Eventually Allen’s experience of isolation at the cabin forced him to sit comfortably with himself – a feeling he’d be able to harness forever. 

“I learned that I can be alone. I went up there lonely, and left knowing how to be alone, which helped me a couple years ago when the world shut down. I felt like I was in the cabin again. I guess that's why I wanted to tell you this story.”

More from Aric Allen on UnFictional:  


Bay of Smokes: The Day Smog Showed Up in LA 

Mickey Cohen Undefeated




Bob Carlson


Bob Carlson, Anna Buss

Episode graphics by Alex Cerrilla

Theme Music by Alex Weston, with music help from Joe Augustine and Narrative Music.