The doorbell rings. It is midmorning and we are getting ready to eat lunch. Everyone at home looks at one another. Who could it be? Especially now? You know, my only Indian neighbor has the habit of dropping in unannounced quite often and much to my delight. We usually sit and enjoy a cup of South Indian coffee as we catch up with each other’s lives and gossip a little about the neighborhood. The only downside is, she has a knack of showing up on days the dishes are not done in my kitchen. Every single time! Go figure! I don’t know how, but she always knows when my sink is full and simply shows up on those days! Now of course, on occasion when the sink is indeed full, I smile and instead of clearing it, get ready to make some nice south Indian coffee for her. I do after all like chit chatting with her and she on her part has learnt to ignore my sink, over the years. But in the past few days when I leave the sink full on occasion, all I can do is sigh, look across the street longingly and go ahead and load the dish washer. I am not enjoying this clean kitchen as much I tell you! So, the doorbell kind of took us by surprise. These days, even packages are quietly left by the door and we all know the expected delivery dates and even time anyways. If you are wondering at how our faces looked like when the bell rang, you should have seen Toby - reaching the door in a jiffy from the second floor, wagging his tail fervently making me worry if it is going to fall off, trying to sniff the person out he was crazy happy! I open the door. Of course, the person who rang the bell is almost at the end of the driveway, so I step out and realize, mulch! The cool breeze is too tempting and all those white flowers showering down reminding us of snowflakes off the bradford pears is too beautiful to step back inside and close the door. I decide to sit on the porch and slowly the dog is out to sit by me sniffing the air looking at me thankfully for just sitting there. Every now and then, I see a person walking a dog, kids zooming by on a bike or an occasional couple that I had never seen before walk by. I see that the newborn is not well, so small or new anymore and is running around their yard! I know I have been getting tidbits of news through messages - an elderly neighbor passing on, another new baby arriving, a house on sale and what not! But, sitting outside watching the happenings I can’t help but wonder. Where does time go and who are these people? Where were they all hiding? I am surprised. I miss one on one interactions. Life these days is indeed confuzzling - confusing and puzzling like my students say anytime they do not understand something that I am teaching - we miss the human touch, the joy of laughing with friends or even strangers, sharing news and hugging one another, getting together. There is still the joy, the sadness, the plants, the birds, the skies, people and happenings – life seems to go on, only in individual bubbles. Who can understand us better than another human? But the truth is, we all know that this difficult time too shall pass! As I think of this phase of life in all our lives, I am reminded of the post that is making rounds in the current situation, yes again on social media – Courtesy – facebook post I am sure all of us go living through these zones at different points and not necessarily in that order even, but all of us must remember to continue to be in the growth zone as much as we can. Come to think of it, being in that growth zone is the way to live! Even if we have parked ourselves in the other two zones (especially the first one) more often than we realize, I am sure we have been in that growth zone as well, more often than we realize! Perhaps you assured a loved one, stopped to say hello and chitchatted with a total stranger while driving by, lifted the spirits of a friend, helped a neighbor, stayed cheerful so that your family feels optimistic and joyful. Perhaps a friend texted you and lifted your spirits, a stranger said a good word. I don’t know! But striving to be in that growth zone.…….…is not a bad idea at all; so that we may all give and receive gracefully in turn!