Most of my New Year celebrations involve watching an early sunrise and spending the day writing and reading. During the pandemic, it was about feeling an impending sense of gloom. When I am at home, I spend it with my parents having delicious food and watching some movie award show on the television.
But this time it was different.
I spend the last day of 2022 and the first day of 2023 with a bunch of lovely people. It was the bachelorette celebration of a close friend with a few mutual friends. We had spent the entire day on the 31st of December visiting a vineyard, going on a heritage walk tour of an ancient city called Nashik, having delicious food, and having a mini celebration with our friend.
This was probably the best New Year’s Eve I have had in recent times.
However, as midnight approached and everyone went to sleep, I was simultaneously hit by a dust allergy and an overwhelming avalanche of emotions.
Within a span of 30 minutes, I had a runny nose, a mini sneeze attack, and eyes full of tears. I don’t know if the tears were due to the allergy or the emotions I was feeling or a combination of both.
Thankfully, I found a way to deal with the allergy with the help of medicine.
But, I was disturbed by what I was feeling.
I couldn’t have asked for a better New Year’s eve celebration. I was at a close friend’s house, surrounded by lovely folks who were our mutual friends. We had just spent a day exploring a beautiful vineyard and the ancient city of Nashik.
But I felt a deep sense of cold loneliness amidst the warm company of the people in that house.
My heart was heavy with an inexplicable emptiness and disconnection. It was not as if I had not enjoyed connecting with people. It was probably more of a disconnection with myself. Whatever might be the reason, I felt extremely lonely at that time. It triggered a wave of overwhelming emotions and tears which I managed to control as I wished Happy New Year to everyone.
To be fair, I was extremely exhausted after the day’s adventure. And they say, sometimes physical exhaustion can also lead to this kind of emotional outburst.
Eventually, thanks to the medicine and the physical exhaustion, I was able to fall asleep fairly quickly.
The next day, I woke up with an emotional hangover. Still feeling a bit empty and somber.
However, the warm hospitality of my friend and her parents which included a delicious breakfast made me temporarily forget my selfish wallowing in the vortex of emotions.
The day followed with a couple of adventure water sports activities.
I remember getting hit by a strong wave of cold air as the jet ski soared on the water. I was paying attention to every breath while trying to keep my eyes open. It helped me stay in the moment and experience the exhilaration of riding on the water waves at a crazy pace, thanks to the expert driver behind me.
It was followed by something called a “bumper ride” that I took with my friend.
This ride was on a large floating rubber disk that was tied to a jet-ski. We both placed ourselves on that disk and braced for support. What followed was an absolutely wild ride as we were dragged by the speeding jetski with water splashing on us from all directions. I tried to follow a similar mindful breathing approach as I had done on the jet ski. But, with water hitting me strongly on the face, I found it difficult to do so and it took some time to match my breathing to the pace of the ride. Plus, it was difficult to concentrate with my friend screaming at top of her lungs beside me. And by the time I found some success, the ride was over.
These two adventure activities gave me a glimpse of why some people love these kinds of activities.
Because I realized, in those few moments, I was no longer feeling lonely. I was simply present. I was intensely aware of every moment. I was alive with every breath and every splash of water that hit me squarely in the face.
Maybe a temporary antidote to loneliness is just finding a way to connect with the present moment with intense awareness. It can be via meditation or any activity that makes you forget the time and gets you in the flow- either metaphorically or literally like in the case of water sports! 😀
I say temporary because the long-term antidote also involves connecting deeply with oneself on a regular basis.
In the book, Healing your Aloness, the author writes,
“We feel alone when we disconnect from ourselves, and then we feel lonely because we cannot connect to others until we connect to ourselves.”
And this process of reconnection with ourselves takes time after years of self-neglect, lack of self-care, and poor emotional cognition and regulation.
Till that time, just coming back to the present moment via simple activities (and occasionally adventure sports!) could help.
What do you think?
Have you ever noticed similar moments of presence during adventure activities?
How do you deal with loneliness?
Share your thoughts in the comments below!