Life is for the Living

“Life is for the living.
Death is for the dead.
Let life be like music.
And death a note unsaid.”

Langston Hughes, The Collected Poems

I confess. While I’d heard the ‘life is for the living’ quote many times, and said it myself more than once, before this blog post I’d never bothered to research where it came from. I’d also never spent much time thinking about it beyond the obvious. Yet I have been known to miss the obvious right in front of me.

For instance, about a year ago my wife discovered that I’m an insufferable dummy. This ultimate truth came out when it dawned on me, after having heard the tagline from Kay Jewelers that ‘Every Kiss Begins with Kay’, that what they meant was the letter K.  The word kiss begins with the letter K.

In fairness, I didn’t figure that out. Erin told me when I expressed confusion about why that tagline should exist, because most people kiss for the first time in high school or junior high and have likely never set foot in a jewelry store. I could see her soul breaking a little bit as she realized just how thick I really was. One more scratch in the paint of her belief that she married a Ferrari when I am actually more of a used Datsun.

I recently thought that life is for the living might not be what I heard in the words. Maybe ‘the living’ doesn’t refer to the physical meat sacks who are respiring, consuming and procreating, but rather the action itself. Life is for the opportunity to do some living. Meaning you could say that life is for the…

  • …breathing
  • …smiling
  • …thinking
  • …creating
  • …procreating
  • …consuming
  • …hugging
  • …kissing
  • …fucking
  • …reflecting
  • …crying
  • …wondering
  • …giving
  • …accumulating
  • …losing
  • …writing
  • …traveling
  • …seeing
  • …doing
  • …sleeping
  • …eating
  • …drinking
  • …losing
  • …loving
  • …living

But maybe life is not for the stressing, fretting, worrying, or bothering to add to this list. If those aren’t the living, then life is not for them.

Am I giving them life?  Are you?

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