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I have a question about a phrase (an idiom), which can be roughly said as:

You have only one life (to live) and it's not going to happen again.

I'm not sure if it's correct, most likely not. What I want is a meaning of this phrase, not said like "You have only one" but like "Life is just one" or "One has only one" if you know what I mean. Not saying to someone: "You have" but saying it like a general statement ("One have" or "There's a..."). Something like:

One has only one life and it's not going to happen again (or repeat).

I thought about replacing the part "happen again" with something like "repeat" which would suit better from my point of view but as far as I searched the web, it's not used in this kind of phrase.

Suggestions for more less widely used or known phrases welcomed.

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closed as off topic by MετάEd, Kris, tchrist, Robusto, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Dec 28 '12 at 18:35

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5 Answers

This is usually rendered as

I have but one life to live.

Nathan Hale famously turned this around as he was about to be executed by the British:

I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.

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My high-school typing teacher modified this slightly and referred to the "*" as the "Nathan Hale" key. Of course we asked why, and he explained that as Nathan Hale was about to be executed, he said: "I only regret that I have but one asterisk for my country." –  MT_Head May 16 '11 at 22:26
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I've only got one life, and one pair of hands.

is a version of this saying that you may remember if you're familiar with the video or audiobook Mr. Bach Comes to Call (see transcript 1:39-1:44 of http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0U-t0UxHopg).

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carpe diem

This is not an English phrase, to be sure, though it is well-known to English speakers. In my opinion -- thanks to Dead Poets Society -- it is a hackneyed phrase, but it captures something of what you want to convey.

Originally from Horace Odes 1.11:

Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero

Seize the day trusting as little as possible in tomorrow

Simply put: "Live it up, 'cause you only go 'round once"

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How about "Que sera, sera", or in English

Whatever will be, will be.

It avoids a direct address, and can be used in the same sense of "you don't know what is going to happen, so you might as well try"

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How about

We only go around once.

or even as straightforward as

You only live once.

(There is a Bond movie that suggests otherwise, however.)

EDIT:

You also asked for a "not you" phrase, which I haven't provided. How about

The clock of life is wound but once.

I think this is a line from a Robert Smith poem.

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As I recall, the Schlitz Brewing Company ran a campaign with the following slogan: "You only go around once in life, so do it with gusto. Schlitz - go for the gusto!" –  The Raven May 16 '11 at 20:46
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My favorite is: You only live once - but if you do it right, once is enough. –  MT_Head May 16 '11 at 22:45
    
You only live once - but if you drink Schlitz, once is enough. :-) –  KitFox May 17 '11 at 0:30
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