As I lay in bed listening to the pigeons early morning at the hostel in San Diego, a roommate's alarm went off, an alarm set to a song in which the artist repeats the line "I don't want a never ending life, I just want to be alive while I'm here." I find it difficult to relate to the majority of song lyrics, and in some cases have to rely on my own interpretations in order for the music to not only be enjoyable, but also meaningful.
So while contextually the artist might be suggesting that we're to "live it up" while we're here, partying, indulging, doing whatever feels "good" without regard to consequence, I instead interpreted it as an earnest call to strive to live an upright life.
From both my personal past experience, and observations made while chauffeuring drunk folks around the city on Saturday nights, culturally we celebrate life by numbing our senses, weakening our inhibitions, surrendering what little control we have over our own behavior. We confuse these losses with freedom, when in fact, paradoxically, freedom comes through restraint, through strong self discipline.
"To be alive" then would mean that we're not living with our heads down, eyes closed, blindly acting as a slave to tendency, but rather living with our heads up, awake, aware of our tendencies, acting very deliberately and with good intention. We're present, choosing, experiencing life fully because we're really here, not lost in the imaginations of the past and future, but rather fully engaged in what's happening in this moment right now.
Each and every moment we're making choices, choices that carry both immediate and long term consequences. We can do so either unknowingly or knowingly. It's through meditation that we develop the presence of mind and skills necessary to make better choices, choices that not only uplift ourselves, but also the world around us. It's a tried and true way of truly being alive while we're here.