You only live once. That’s become a very popular phrase lately. It’s used as an exhortation to “get it done now”, to avoid procrastination and to realise that your time on Earth can be shorter than you realise. Some of that is positive and good, but the phrase has a dark side. People think of it in a nihilist sense. As a consequence, they use it as a justification for the most insane, pointless and reckless acts, as if life is given to waste and you must waste it quickly. I think that’s a great mistake.
The other meaning of “you only live once” is that life is precious and should be respected, honoured and lived usefully, with fulfilment, over the long run. A short life is not as good a life as a long one, if both are lived well, right? You may only live once, but it doesn’t mean you ought to throw your life away in some meaningless, unnecessary, but spectacular act of idiocy. It means you should plan to make the most out of your life and to make your life a long life, lived well.
You only live once, so be good to yourself and be good to others. Burn brightly, but consistently, over as long a time as it is possible to be brilliant, so that your life touches as many people as possible, over the generations. Why be an ephemeral spark when you can be an eternal flame?