Take a simple phrase like, I don’t want to live without you.
A great many of us have heard it, or said it, maybe more than once.
For a phrase so worn and frequently deployed
it still manages to confound the simple box of our intent.
There are two meanings here, rooted in the same thought, but separated by a degree of magnitude a hundredfold, so great in fact, that they come to be entirely different species.
Our first meaning is rather plain:
We mean that we don’t want to go about our daily lives without that special someone involved in it.
We want to keep on going to work, keep on seeing our friends, keep on keeping on, as it were…
but with the knowledge that he or she will be there, too.
On the phone at the end of the day, in our bed, across the dinner table.
This is the summation of our lives, lived separately, but not alone.
This is existence.
That phrase, in this context, is rather inert. It states desire but not will, proposes a goal but offers no plan.
Now, take the phrase again: I don’t want to live without you.
I don’t want to live
There is nothing inert about that. It’s rather fanatical, isn’t it? Unhinged. Almost childish in its single-mindedness, a black and white phrase, life or death, love or death.
But at least there are stakes.
The first speaker has merely reported preference, with the implicit knowledge that the universe cares nothing for our wants or our needs.
But the second speaker, they are not so easily dismissed. They are telling the universe, ‘Fulfill my desires or I’ll abandon this imaginary world, for without my breath, nothing exists.’
This is either/or, yes/no, red hearts or red blood. Passion unfettered. No middle ground.
One phrase, two different animals.
The first is prose.
The second is poetry.
This one indicative phrase contains multitudes.
So, what I guess I am trying to say is,
I don’t want to live without you.