"You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough." Can you explain the meaning of quote?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Mae West was as renowned for her aphorisms and witty sayings as she was for her abilities as a writer and film star. My own personal favorite—or at least my favorite among those appropriate for this website—is the immortal "too much of a good thing can be wonderful."

In the particular saying quoted in your question, she's revealing, as she so often did, her considerable joie de vivre, her great love of life lived to the very fullest extent. What she's expressing here is the notion that life is mainly what you put into it. If you live life on your own terms and cram it full of amazing experiences, as Mae West certainly did, then when the time comes for you to leave this mortal world behind, you can say that you lived life the way it should be lived. That's more than enough for one life.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Mae West was known for her controversial career, which included acting, singing and screenwriter. She actually got a late start in movies, at the age of 38. She still managed to become a sex symbol and last quite a while in the business.

Your quote fits in well with many of the other things that are attributed to West. What she is saying is simply that if you live your life fully and without regret you won’t feel like you should have lived a different way—you’ll be satisfied when you get to the end of your life.

Here’s another Mae West quote that shows how she like to stir things up:

Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial