The most important message I got from Eric Maria Remarque's 'A Time to Love and a Time to Die'

A novel from 1954 - by Remarque - taking place during WWII.

I rarely read fiction. However, this book has a really powerful message and is, therefore, one of the most important books I've read. Its message is simple: life is short; use it to the fullest.

When Erns Graeber gets to temporarily return home from the front line, he doesn't sit around doing nothing like some others. Remarque describes how many soldiers, in contrast, decide to play cards or just sleep while Graeber goes out, gets himself a girlfriend, has fun, goes to fancy restaurants, etc.

Remember, it's all taking place in war-torn Germany where air bombings are almost an everyday event. He doesn't find excuses. He does what he can do with the time, money, and options he has. In the meantime, he's also trying to figure out where his parents are (he finds his parent's house bombed to pieces when he returns).

It all that takes place in a week or two. It's incredible how much he gets done during that time.

Yet, how do we mostly spend our time?!

I've written about this before, and here it goes again: many people are not even awake. They're run by their biological drives, ego gratification (e.g., seeking validation), and social conditioning. Essentially, they're programs running their course every day on autopilot.

Do the things you like to do, but don't do something out of boredom. Why not go for a walk or go to the zoo and watch animals. Or read a book or learn something new. Whatever it is, try to recognize the autopilot state and step out of the loop. Time is the most precious thing we have. Once it's gone, it's gone for good.