Full House Solitude

“A creation of importance can only be produced when its author isolates himself, it is a child of solitude.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

We got word yesterday that our daughter, a senior in college, would be spending her glorious fall semester studying remotely from home. Not what we wanted for her, and surely not what she wanted for herself. But here we are, and here we’ll make the most of it. There are silver linings in every setback, and we’re deep into a massive setback in 2020. So be it.

Our son graduated from college in 2020. We’re 2-for-2! Currently working elsewhere, he’ll be home in late September and we’ll adjust to the new normal of four adults living together. For all the celebration of having everyone together once again, we know the reality is that they want to fly, not be back in the nest.

That nest is what I’m thinking about now. We spent the spring lockdown renovating or updating room-after-room. But we didn’t renovate with four of us working from home in mind. As Goethe says, we all need a little isolation to be our most productive. And now I’m thinking about where to give each of us a bit of space to roam creatively. Divide a house built for living and carve out four private offices for distinctly different career paths. Office in a shed? Thought about it. But there’s space here, if we get creative.

I always joked about selling the nest and traveling when the kids went off to college. I’m grateful that remained a joke. The empty nest will quickly fill up, clutter and chaos will return, noise levels will be higher than anticipated, grocery bills will escalate. The days will grow shorter and colder as winter sets in, making outdoor time more evasive. And chasing solitude for creative work is going to be a challenge. But there’s always long walks to reset the mind. And early morning hours. And other such strategies. The investment in effort to make it work is worth it.

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