I saw her before me, beautiful, young, expectant, a butterfly that by
a happy accident had flown into my down-at-heels, shabby room, into my
insignificant, meaningless life, with me and yet not with me—a breath
merely, and it might rise and fly away again… . Blame me, condemn
me; I couldn’t, I simply could not say No, […] We were standing by the window, the mist pressed and broke in waves against the panes—and I felt that behind it lurked again the secret, the hidden, the past things, the damp days of horror, the desolation, the filth, the shreds of a waste life, the perplexity, the misguided frittering away of strength in an aimless existence; but here, before me in the shadow, disconcertingly near, the quiet breathing, the unseizable present—warmth, clear living—I must hold it, I must win it.
― Erich Maria Remarque, from Three Comrades, transl. by A. W. Wheen (Popular Library, 1958)