Ridin’ The Storm Out

REO Speedwagon is a 70’s rock quintet named after a light motor truck introduced in 1915 by the REO Motor Car Company. The REO Speedwagon (the truck) served as delivery, tow, dump, and fire trucks, as well as hearses and ambulances. REO Speedwagon (the band) was founded by Neal Allan Doughty who, like the founder of another of my favorite bands, was an engineer. In “Ridin’ The Storm Out”, Mike Murphy (not Kevin Cronin) sings:

Ridin’ the storm out, waitin’ for the thaw out
On a full moon night in the Rocky Mountain winter
My wine bottle’s low, watching for the snow
Thinkin’ about what I’ve been missin’ in the city
And I’m not missin’ a thing
Watchin’ the full moon crossing the range
Ridin’ the storm out
My lady’s beside me, she’s there to guide me
She says that alone we’ve finally found home
The wind outside is frightening
but it’s kinder than the lightning life in the city
It’s a hard life to live but it gives back what you give

As the world grinds to a halt over Covid-19 and many of us find ourselves “socially distanced” I started thinking about how this affected me and why. We are by nature social creatures. We like to gather in groups. We like to be busy and we like to have a lot of variety. Covid-19 has taken a lot of that away from us. Maybe that is not such a bad thing.

In the song above, two people are trapped in a cabin in the mountains during a winter storm. As they wait for the weather and conditions to improve, they discover that they don’t really miss the frenetic life they lead in the city. In fact, the ability to spend time together and focus on one another has allowed them to discover what home really is.

There will be many tragic results of Covid-19. Many we are already seeing, but many more that won’t become apparent until much later. This is a storm of epic proportions and we are all left with no option but to hunker down and ride it out. However, maybe some good will come of this. We all have the opportunity to discover that we aren’t missing that much by being removed from our “lightning life.”

I have some suggestions for things you might do with the time you now have on your hands:

Sleep. Most people are sleep deprived. I am hardly the one to be talking about this, but the research is clear that we need more sleep than most of us get. You now have the time to take a nap, sleep later, go to bed earlier, whatever it takes to get some extra sleep. This is also helpful to maintain your immune system and stay healthy. Read more about how much sleep you need at The National Sleep Foundation.

Clean up and clean out. Pick a room, or a closet, or a drawer and clean it out. Get rid of stuff you don’t need; organize the stuff you do. I got this idea from my wife and daughter who are going to do this to every room in our house while she is home from college. There are several great online resources to help you simplify and organize your stuff and your life. Abby Lawson’s web site starts with the basics: take everything out, pitch what you don’t use/need, put it back in an ordered way.

Learn something. This is a great time to work through that pile of books you have been meaning to read. If reading isn’t your thing, listen to some podcasts or audio books. Mix it up, try something different, something factual, or something fictional. Watch documentaries, specials, historical movies or even theatrical movies based on real events (then research what they got right and what they got wrong.) Many services are offering their pay-per-view content for free during this pandemic, so take advantage.

Finally, connect. Even though we are being told to physically distance ourselves, it doesn’t mean we can’t be social. Call family and friends to see how they are doing and catch up. Use facetime, teams, skype or other video chat/conferencing apps to have a virtual coffee, chat, or just “hang out” together. Unlike being stuck in a cabin in the mountains during a winter storm, we are only physically distanced, not cut off. This is a great time to reach out and spend time talking to each other.

Things will not be the same after this storm passes. We will have changed as individuals and as communities. Some of those changes will be difficult and costly. Some of those changes will be regretted. However, we can choose to do things that make us better, not in spite of the crisis, but because of it. The wind outside is frightening, but we can find home if look for it. Great leaders find the positive and the useful in every situation. Life may be hard right now, but it still gives back what you give, and giving yourself time to rest, to get organized, to learn and to connect is a great way to wait for the thaw out, and it is The Kimray Way.

P.S. The other band founded by an engineer is Boston. Tom Scholz graduated with both a bachelor’s degree (1969) and a master’s degree (1970) in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Engineers rock, just sayin’….