The power of taking your time
A man who is a master of patience is master of everything else.
Life is a game of patience. All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque has encouraged me to become a more engaged, thoughtful, and patient reader. Reading the first six chapters of All Quiet on the Western Front tests the patience of the reader; I found that it is impossible to fly through the reading assignments for this book, and that I must be calm, patient, and thorough in order to unlock the full experience. The interesting vocabulary and use of words makes the messages and themes more subtle, leading to a book that requires readers to invest in it. If the reader truly digs deep into the novel, they will find the process to be worthwhile in the end.
When Fitz handed me my copy of All Quiet on the Western Front, and began to speak about its “perfection,” I thought to myself, “yet another book to annotate and write an essay about. Here we go again.” As I began reading, I quickly realized that this inpatient, “let's get this over with” mindset would not cut it with a piece of literature like All Quiet on the Western Front. After reading the first chapter, and discussing it as a class, it was obvious to me that I hadn’t understood the reading whatsoever. I had a decision to make. I could continue reading as I was, and do my best to pass by meeting expectations, or, I could invest my attention, and my patience in this book by going all out in order to understand it. I’ve never been one to back down from challenges, so naturally, I chose the latter. That night, I stepped up my game. I reread chapter one, and continued on to chapter two with a type of engagement and patience I had never achieved in a reading assignment before. Not only did I highlight, but I also wrote my thoughts on sticky-notes, read along with an audiobook, and paused to think and reflect on the reading’s content. I accepted that this was the best way for me to continue to read the first six chapters of the novel. I understood that this would take patience, and I jumped in.
Early on in my reading, I struggled with the novel’s themes. In past reading assignments, I was usually able to identify themes almost immediately, and had no trouble understanding them. When I started All Quiet on the Western Front, I became frustrated with my inability to identify the story’s themes. As I developed into a more thorough, and patient reader, however, I was able to wait for the themes to unfold, and reveal themselves. To my surprise, I found the themes to be more relatable than I anticipated. Paul and his friends showed me that, in life, everyone can feel lost, even if they are not on the frontlines at war. In my life, I have felt lost during times of change or uncertainty. I was surprised that I could make this personal connection. I realized that I was able to make this connection because of my diligence and patience with the reading.
Through the door of patience lies endless opportunities.
April 26th, 2021