The world, with all its billions of people, can be a lonely place for people whose ideas and attitudes don’t quite fit the norm. Though there must be someone among all those billions who share quirky ideas and attitudes, it’s hard to find them. Sharing those attributes, alone, is not enough to create bonds between people. Similar life experiences, too, contribute to achieving the level of comfort necessary for people to reveal who they are.
Loneliness and isolation are not synonymous; one need not be isolated to be lonely. A person surrounded by generous, caring, wonderful people with whom he shares much is not isolated, but he can be lonely. He can be lonely because those generous, caring, wonderful people may not share his quirky ideas and attitudes. Absent stumbling into others whose personalities and experiences mesh with his own, he creates his own world within the broader canvas of the one people think is real. Even in that individual-specific universe, a fantasy exists that soulmate friends will emerge at any moment.
When I look around me at all the people I encounter on a daily basis in whatever context—grocery store, gas station, art gallery, coffee shop, post office—I wonder if any of them are living with their own fantasies of meeting others who share their quirky ideas and attitudes. You’d almost have to be in a group therapy session (at least as I imagine group therapy sessions to be) to hear the sorts of things on their minds that could trigger that sense of recognition that, “yes, there’s one like me!”