The Home for Seniors was a sad place to visit, but realizing how much the residents enjoyed company, Gila made it a point to stop by regularly. She developed relationships with many of the elderly residents of the facility, but none was as close as her friendship with Mr. Katzenstein. They read books and played checkers and always found something to smile about.
Then things changed. For a few consecutive visits he was quiet and withdrawn. Gila’s attempts to cheer him up were unsuccessful. She decided to confront him.
“How come you’re so down lately, Mr. K.?” she inquired. “You’re just not the man I used to know.”
“I guess I was never good at hiding my feelings,” he admitted. “I’ll be honest with you. These days, I’m starting to realize that the time I’ve got left is short and to recognize how much time I wasted when I was young.”
“Don’t think like that,” Gila encouraged. “You’re really in very good health for a person your age.”
“These days, I don’t feel that I can be independent. These days, there are things I would like to do but am unable to do. I wasted my strength in my younger years. That’s the cause of my sadness.”
Human beings live in denial of the day of death. Thoughts of the inevitable end of life are driven out of our consciousness in order to enable us to enjoy life in this world. Years pass before most even realize that tempus fugit — time flies. When old age sets in, people lose much of their physical power and much of their mental capacity as well. Then they realize that their talents were wasted in their youth rather than utilized to capacity.
Shlomo Hamelech said: “So remember your Creator in the days of your youth” (Kohelet 12:1). Maximize your use of “these days” before they transform into “those days.”
One More Second: Another Thought for the Day
When you wake up in the middle of the night or have a long wait in a doctor’s office, cherish those moments as opportunities to think. A wise person uses these opportunities to learn more about himself and think of ways he can improve. (Harav Shlomo Wolbe, Alei Shur, p. 167)