|The King wanted to reward a man in his kingdom for an act of bravery. He decided to grant him twenty four hours, from night to night, to grab as much gold as he could from the kingdom's gold deposits. The man was taken by the royal chariot on a journey deep into the mountains. He arrived at his destination on a cold and black moonless night and was told that he has twenty four hours to take as much as he possibly could.
The man was clueless where to start in the pitch black. After a while he stumbled on a object which turned out to be a lantern filled with oil and a match. When he lit the lantern he saw that he was standing before a mountain of gold, albeit buried under ice. Grabbing a pickaxe that he saw on the floor, he quickly got to work, since a number of precious hours had already been lost.
Close to daybreak after having removed some layers of ice he managed to extract a few gold nuggets before falling asleep totally worn out. A few hours later near midday, he woke up, upset over his lost time, and started to work frantically. The work was hard and slow, but he hacked away at the ice and started to accumulate a respectable amount of gold.
Late afternoon he noticed the ice on the far side of the mountain had melted under the shining sun. He quickly ran there and began to fast and furiously gather more gold. At this point he was bone weary from his hard labor and lack of sleep. The cold and hunger were also taking their toll. Lifting his head for a short break he noticed the sun starting to set over the mountains. The sight was breathtaking. He thought to himself that although it wasn't a most productive day still he did manage to earn quite a bit of wealth, and at this point he deserved a good rest. Why not enjoy the sunset? Why not spend some peaceful moments being proud and reflecting upon what he achieved during this special day.
Surely we all agree that this man was a fool. After struggling through most of the day, he finally was in a position to amass an enormous amount of riches. With a only a small window left before this once in a lifetime opportunity expires forever, he chose to relax now? There would be plenty of time to relax later and reflect upon his fortune. Why now?!
A person is born into this world with an opportunity to amass a fortune doing mitzvos. We start our lives in the dark not understanding what to do or why to do it. As we get older our eyes are opened to the beauty of the mitzvos. However although the rewards in plain sight, the work is not easy as we reach the peak of our midlife struggles. Life'\s obstacles and distractions make the work very difficult. Yet we work hard and manage to get on track, acquiring quite a few mitzvos in the process.
As we move into the golden years, our purpose in life becomes clear and fewer distractions impede our quest. But for some reason here is where we break down. With the end near we feel we deserve to slow down and enjoy the fruits of our labor. We want to relax after a hard life. But is now the time? There couldn't possibly be a worse time to relax. With time running out and after having finally understood our role with clarity, we should be more active than ever. Only then when life is over can we truly consider look back upon these years as the golden years. It is these years that our lives were filled accumulating nothing but pure gold.