The Right Track

“Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” Will Rogers

Last week, I drove 20 minutes to meet someone for coffee. We took pandemic-era precautions - wore masks to order, sat outside, and kept our distance from other customers and from each other. This seemingly simple action, something I might have even seen as an inconvenience in my schedule 5 months ago, gave me a much needed kick in the butt.

When the pandemic first began in March, I approached it with the mindset of “how can we adapt?” Our business is based on in-person team building and everything on our calendar got cancelled. But we’re creative people so we figured out ways to innovate. We were also fortunate to have a few past clients call us looking for upbeat virtual programming. Momentum was on our side.

Then at some point as the months wore on, I settled into a sedentary rhythm. I lost that juice. We were still working on stuff. I might have been on the “right track,” but as Will Rogers captures in this quote I was getting run over. Add in the heaviness of the Coronavirus numbers not improving and the social unrest following George Floyd’s death. I didn’t even realize how weighed down I felt until that day I went to get coffee.

I took a highway to get to my destination. Driving 70 mph with my sunroof open and music playing on a beautiful day, I felt light and free. And it felt different. Like many of us, my drives have been limited to weekly food trips to the grocery store which is usually as a passenger. Or I drive 2 miles over to see my parents. That's it. 

I’m no stranger to limited mobility. Last year, I had to give up driving for most of the year because of a health issue. At the beginning of this pandemic, I joked that I was way ahead of everyone else because I had a year of practice at this whole stay-at-home thing. 

Although that year presented lots of challenges, I could still travel and satisfy my itch to explore new places. Last year we flew to Buffalo, Boston, St. Louis, Kansas City, and my favorite Stockholm. And once I wrestled with vulnerability issues and got comfortable asking for rides, I could always keep moving. 

My Covid “hunkered down” mentality started to feel similar to my limited driving of last year. I’ve become a passenger in the car like last year because when we leave the house - we typically go together. I just naturally take the passenger role. On top of that, I feel like I “can’t” go to that many places because of the virus. The energy has felt restrictive. 

It wasn’t until the car ride that day that I realized that this time, I’ve self-imposed the restriction. Yes, the pandemic has put limits on our movement and we need to make safe choices. But I don’t need to let that define my response. There are ways I can adhere to protocols without stagnating.  So since then, I’ve made changes.

For me exploring new places and connecting with people are ways that I get energy. I’ve since planned a few outings to give me boosts of energy and keep my momentum going. A trip to the lake for a swim, another outdoor coffee with a colleague, taking photos in a sunflower patch, and exploring a nearby urban downtown are just a few of the local things that I’ve made time to do. These outings have been great for my energy, but more importantly for making me feel like myself again - like I was on the “right track.” 

As we keep moving through the pandemic, as teachers begin planning for the uncertain school year ahead, as the BLM protesters keep working to be seen and heard - whatever role you play in it: What will give you the energy and momentum you need to keep moving forward? How will you stay on the “right track” and connected to yourself?