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  • Writer's pictureEric Spitz

Solitude and Self-Discovery in Tustin, Michigan

There’s a certain charm that comes from going on a road trip.

The local diners, unfamiliar terrain and curious locals make for a euphoric experience with stories that last a lifetime. The experiences gained during the journey can have just as much of an impact as the ones experienced at the destination, which makes taking the back roads that much more enjoyable. There’s something refreshing about being a stranger in someone else’s town.

Earlier this week, that same person who I wrote the previous sappy post about went on a road trip of her own to visit family around the state. Hearing her stories of spending time with family, exploring new places and spending hours en route to the next destination was getting me inspired to hit the road once again, if even for just a few days. To that, she asked why I didn’t just go on a road trip. To which, I had no excuse, and started thinking of destinations I could explore within a short time frame.

After weighing out a few possibilities, Cadillac, Michigan stood out in my head. I have a few friends from Cadillac, and have heard wonderful things, but never explored the area. After doing a quick Airbnb search, I found the perfect location: Tustin, Michigan, right outside Cadillac. The destination was a log cabin, with no running water or electricity, located in the middle of some gorgeous private woods on three acres. This was a road trip I just couldn’t refuse.

Despite what the beard and flannel infer, I am not the most useful person to have as a companion in the woods. Doing the venture solo was practically a death wish in itself. But I’ve come to learn that solitude can do wonders for personal growth, and the best way to learn is by diving in and doing it. Stumbling and making mistakes along the way is all a part of the journey, and make the learning and growing process that much faster.

There were plenty of stumbles on this trip. I accidentally took my poor Buick Lucerne on a seasonal two-track road, resulting in getting stuck. I had to watch a YouTube video on how to start a fire in a wood stove. But as I sat in candle light putting pen to paper, I couldn’t have been more proud of myself. I managed to start my first fire and spend a night of solitude in a cabin in the middle of the woods, all without burning it down! It’s all about the small victories in life.

Solitude can do wonders for the mind and soul. Spending one night going off the grid and isolated in the middle of the woods was an incredibly liberating and eye-opening experience, and has inspired me to get more in touch with nature, and learn for the sake of learning. However, the cabin itself didn’t inspire this growth, but rather acted as an intermediary for my own self-discovery. I’ll end this with a quote in Zen and the Art of Happinessby Chris Prentiss, which is one of the books I was reading during my stay in the cabin.

“The answers are never ‘out there.’ All the answers are ‘in there,’ inside you, waiting to be discovered.”

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