A recurring image in the novel is the way humans, who have the ability to use their energy and life force to create and be productive, often choose instead to waste it on useless and obsessive activity. Before the war, Colonel Aureliano Buendía works as a successful goldsmith, making tiny decorative fish out of gold to help contribute to household expenses. After the war, the gold fish become a pointless way of passing time. He forges fish after fish, then melts them all down to start all over again, repeating this loop until he dies. Useless and obsessive, indeed.