A few days ago I met a man with a remarkable story.
This man is an Amerisian, born to a Vietnamese mother and an Italian American father. He came to the U.S. to learn that his father did not want to see him, and that he had a mafioso for an uncle.
He became a gang leader and a drug dealer, shot people and got shot, saw people die from the drug he had sold them, and eventually got caught and jailed. At some point while behind bars he found God. After he was released, he entered a seminary, graduated and became a pastor.
His old life was something I'd only read in fictional novels. Having someone who had actually lived that sort of life sitting in front of me and telling me about it was a startling experience. I felt I was looking through a spacecraft window into a totally alien world.
Then I thought of the other worlds that I knew nothing about, all lived by the people I saw everyday in shops, streets and other places. Each has his own world unknown to others, like soap bubbles floating near each other but floating separately, like those multiple parallel universes - each with its own space and time - dreamed up by theoretical physicists.
The world is such a complex place and our experiences are woefully limited. How far can we stretch our imagination, how open can our mind go to empathize with each other? Like the wormholes that connect the hypothetical parallel universes, true understanding between people is just as rare.
I guess that's how loneliness happens.