Life is strange these days.

As if life as we knew it pre-pandemic didn’t come with its ups and downs, now there are even more challenges.

The uncertainty of the start of a new school year, how long this pandemic will last and so much more.

Some days are better than others. And sometimes I have an off day.

Though the sun was shining Monday, I didn’t feel its warmth of the joy that normally comes with a bright day.

Instead, my thoughts were reflective and felt a little heavy. It was just one of those days.

After getting some necessary things done at the house, I headed out to run a few errands and have some “me” time.

At one of my stops, I was surprised to find I wasn’t alone. I hadn’t ever bumped into anyone at this particular location.

It was an older gentleman and his dog, a big Labrador.

I was taken aback and wished he hadn’t been there. I just wanted to have some quiet time.

I excused myself as I walked by him and we exchanged greetings, but he quickly began a conversation I couldn’t ignore.

He talked about how difficult things have been for him lately, how he recently sold his house and had to get his belongings out faster than he hoped. He was overwhelmed.

He continued talking and shared more personal details — he was newly divorced and lost a car he had restored in an accident — and I listened because it was clear he needed someone to do so.

Within a matter of minutes, the priorities I had at that time and the quiet time I wanted for myself fell by the wayside.

I asked a few questions, but mostly listened for 10 or 15 minutes and forgot about what had been on my mind. And that was OK.

As the conversation wound down, I wished the gentleman well, and I meant it. I was confident our brief interaction was just what he needed.

And, I didn’t feel as off in the hour that followed as I explored my quiet time.

It’s ironic how the unexpected can shift a perspective.

A passing conversation with someone — even a stranger — and human connection has the potential to touch a heart and lift one’s spirits.

Deborah Rose is a lifelong New Milford resident who has worked at The Spectrum since its inception in 1998. She can be reached by email at drose@newstimes.com.