It is not a sad word simply because of its dictionary meaning. Its sad because it carries on its stooped shoulders a series of failures. In friendships, relationships, communication. In intent, involvement, committment, effort.
The word loneliness speaks of failed endeavours. It speaks of aborted attempts because those who are by themselves by choice, don't use the word 'lonely'. They say they are solitary.
Hence, lonely instantly becomes a loaded word. Crippled with multiple fractures.
It is a cliche to say one can feel the loneliest in a crowd. That of course is true. And to be expected, considering a crowd cannot relate to you intimately, personally.
What is said seldom is that the more one's heart is filled with love, the lonelier one can get. The sheer contrast between the outflow of emotion and the paucity of receptacles in which to pour it in, renders one frighteningly alone at times.
A forgotten smile, a missed call, an unanswered letter, a break in eye contact, a lack of warmth in a return hug, loneliness is heralded by a menagerie of foot soldiers.
Expectations are of course a precursor to loneliness. And yet how possible is it to lead an entire life without expectations? To feel warm gushes of affection and caring without being burdened by some sort of behavorial context, some sort of ease at being able to predict other people's responses and reactions?
We all can't be Sufi in the interactions we engage in, in the relationships we forge, in the love we feel. And anyhow, the Sufis were probably the loneliest of them all...