View Photo Gallery: More than 492,000 homes and businesses across Maryland and Virginia lost power Friday night as one of the most powerful and punishing storms in months swept across the Washington region.

Residents in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C. have been, in a manner of speaking, roughing it.

This means trips to coffee houses for coffee and much-needed power for smartphones, tablets and other gadgets necessary for keeping us connected and, yes, busy.

The “derecho” storm, which hit mid-Atlantic states between New Jersey and Kentucky has left hundreds of thousands without power — many since Friday. And time without power is scheduled to last, for some, at least a week if not longer.

The storms hit just before a New York Times op-ed by essayist and cartoonist Tim Krieder outlined a chronic affliction on many of our lives: busyness, or the act of being perpetually and all too often unnecessarily busy.

In the piece, which appeared online Saturday, Krieder writes:

Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day.

On Friday, for many in one of the nation’s busiest cities, nearly everything — including their busy plans — came to a screeching halt.

The storm was devastating, killing at least 17 and upending trees, which, in turn, destroyed houses, cars and other property. The repercussions are still being felt during the cleanup and recovery process. States of Emergency were declared in Virginia, the nation’s capital and Maryland.

But the storms presented those who were marginally affected an opportunity: a moment to bring an end, perhaps, to busyness — a moment to think, to have a candle-lit dinner with conversation instead of a meal with the cool glow of the television, and a minute to not be busy — not because we don’t want to, but because we simply can’t. And idleness has its own innovation value, writes Krieder:

“Archimedes’ “Eureka” in the bath, Newton’s apple, Jekyll & Hyde and the benzene ring: history is full of stories of inspirations that come in idle moments and dreams. It almost makes you wonder whether loafers, goldbricks and no-accounts aren’t responsible for more of the world’s great ideas, inventions and masterpieces than the hardworking.”

So, if you are without power, nervous that you’re not as busy as you otherwise could or should be, perhaps the storm presents an opportunity to, without the assistance of the beeps, tweets, rings, posts and, yes, even the lights of daily life, to come up with your next, great idea.

To our Ideas@Innovations readers in the affected areas, we hope you’re safe and that you had a chance to spend at least one day busy-free.