Human beings are wired to connect. Like many others, I was looking forward to the holiday season. In 2020 December, we sheltered-in-place to stop the spread of the virus. After getting vaccinated and boosted in 2021, we were finally ready to celebrate the holiday season with loved ones. We had plans for out-of-town visitors to see us; dinner parties at home; Christmas with the family; gatherings with friends and family; and Christmas brunch with our local friends. I devoted a lot of time curating the dinner menu, creating the grocery list, and ordering holiday gifts.
Then Omicron took over everything. My husband’s cousins, who were supposed to fly in from North Carolina, had to cancel their tickets a week prior to Christmas. One of the doormen in our building got the virus. Then it was friends, colleagues, cousins, and neighbors. Slowly, we annulled every plan as a preventative measure. It felt like deja vu; we were transported back to the holiday season of 2020.
To deal with what I couldn’t control, I spent the week of Christmas working, signing on new clients, submitting essays, working on my PhD path, and devoting the extra time to my workouts. I attended virtual yoga classes and doubled down on my yoga practice. Instead of whining about canceled plans, I picked the path of productivity. But as soon as Sunday, December 26, hit, I felt restless. My mom’s 75th birthday was coming up. I couldn’t help but imagine how we would have celebrated had she been alive. She loved the pampering, her whisky, her saris, and her parties. The week of December 27th is when my father was scheduled to move out of my childhood home. My brother and I fully support and encourage his decision. But the little girl in me felt “homeless.” It hit me that I no longer have mera ghar (my home) in India where I can put up my feet and ask for a hot cup of chai. The inability to make genuine connections with people during these times created a sense of loneliness. We all know that humans are social beings.
Whenever chaos and heartaches carve a space in my life, I believe my mother looks over me. The phone rang.
“Come with us to Georgia.”
It was one of my cousins in New Jersey. We both have a cousin didi (older sister) in Georgia with whom we are both close. She sensed the skepticism in my voice — as someone with an autoimmune condition, I don’t have the privilege to call Omicron “mild.” A virus is a virus, and we don’t know how it will impact my body.
She added, “Sit in the car, drive down, and don’t stop anywhere on the way.”
After I hung up, I called up my cousin in Georgia. She screamed with excitement.
“Just come over. It’s safer here. We’ll stay home and be sure to not expose you to anything.”
My brain ran all the possible scenarios on why the trip might not be the best idea. I had some writing deadlines and homework due in Ayurveda school.
My cousin said, “I am setting up an office space for you. Nobody will disturb you. Just come over.”
I am not an impulsive person by any stretch of imagination. But my husband is. Bless his heart. He knew how much this trip would mean to him, me, and our family. How much we all needed it. On a whim, he confirmed that we’d be there. Vaxxed, boosted and tested, we packed up and drove out, seeking greener pastures and warmer temperatures down south.
We reached Georgia on my mom’s birthday and opened a bottle of champagne in her honor. We all huddled up together at home—no sight-seeing or local tourism. Family time. Family stories. Rest. Hugs. Cooking. Rejuvenation. Eating. And a whole lot of love. The men watched sports and talked about cryptocurrency. One of my brothers-in-law and I discussed books. The kids lit up the place with their humor. One of my nephews cooked us hearty, healthy, and delicious brunches every day. We picked veggies and herbs from my cousin’s kitchen garden. We danced. A few of us practiced yoga together. I obviously talked about Ayurveda. It helped that it rained a lot while we were there. There is something so centering about rain during winter. Makes you want to sip masala chai or coffee and sit together and play board games.
After close to two weeks of buckling down and not seeing anyone and feeling really cheated this holiday season (Courtesy of Omicron spread in NYC) … my heart and head finally feel healed. The little girl in me, who was feeling motherless and “homeless” before leaving NYC, returned with a sense of wholesomeness. I was surrounded by so much love, laughter, shimmies, and hugs this past week that all my broken pieces came together and became whole.
Our daily practices and habits keep us grounded. They are vital to our inner stability and how we navigate the world. But the power of human connection is unmatchable. We all share different kinds of relationships with our friends and family. I am not here to tell you how to manage them; I am here to remind you that leading a balanced life isn’t a solo act. No matter what the gurus tell you, we all benefit from being loved, valued, and heard. Compassion and connection are integral to our existence. Even though it seems we’re always connected, thanks to social media and our smartphones, that notion couldn’t be further from the truth.
In 2022, before you do anything else, identify the key human connections in your life. Having a strong support system helps people overcome challenges more easily and helps us maintain a state of well-being.
“Relationships are all there is. Everything in the universe only exists because it is in relationship to everything else. Nothing exists in isolation. We have to stop pretending we are individuals that can go it alone.” ~ Margaret J. Wheatley
For more of The Balanced Life on SEEMA.com, check out 5 Ways to a Healthy Lifestyle in 2022