A handsome young man entered a restaurant, a kind of restaurant where you can be sure to leave your entire month salary for a dinner quite ordinary. Upon arrival, he was greeted with respect that is usually shown to customers known for their good appetite and fat tips. His personal table was already waiting for him in the middle of a very big room packed with laughing, smiling, overdressed guests and busy looking waiters.
The restaurant was way out of his "league" but he loved coming here. Here he was treated with respect reserved only for rich and famous. He was neither. In all probability, he might never be. But there was something extremely pleasurable in being treated like one of them, if only for an hour. He would come here every day for the rest of his life, but his job barely afforded him this pleasure once a month, and for the last couple of years he never missed it even once.
He never really had his whole life planed, he was just living it. Long ago, he learned how to enjoy life and all its little pleasures day after day. Visiting his favorite restaurant, even not as often as he would like, was one of those things that made his life so great. He knew that doing whatever he wanted was not always possible, but when it was possible he didn't waste any time.
Now, seating at his table, he looked at his life where everything seemed simple and pleasurable with even more enjoyment than ever. But this time the pleasure was bittersweet. This was his last visit because he would not be able to afford coming to the restaurant anymore. In fact, there were going to be so many things that he wouldn't be able to do anymore that he didn't even want to think about them all. He had only one month left to live his life as he wanted. No, he wasn't dying, at least that wasn't in his plans. He was going to do something that might very well prove to be equally limiting - he was getting married. His fiancé was one of those girls who are so pretty and lovely that you can't take your eyes off them. He thought he loved her enough to agree to all the life changes marriage was about to throw at him. Yet, somewhere deep inside his heart, hidden from all his cheering friends, there lived doubt.
* * *
As the wedding day was approaching, his worries grew bigger and bigger. Finally, he could not sleep or eat anymore. Day and night, questions were burning in his mind. Was a married man's life, he was about to get, worth losing the life of a single man, he was enjoying so much? Was he about to make a mistake? What should he do?
One day, as he heard that a philosopher was passing through the town, giving speeches about the power of thought and the meaning of life, he felt a relief of new hope. He would go ask the wise man for help! Surely, the philosopher would know the answer to a simple question like to get married or not to get married.
The answer the philosopher gave, shocked him with its despair: It didn't matter if you got married or not, you would end up disappointed either way! That could not possibly be true! He simply refused to believe that there was no way of choosing a happy life. The answer was still out there, he just had to look harder...
* * *
As he was standing at the altar looking at his bride coming closer and closer, a sudden thought entered his mind. What if the philosopher was right? What if, despite your best efforts, you'd find yourself at the end feeling disappointed in all the things you have ever done? Would you be able to make peace with the knowledge that disappointment at the end was guarantied? Would you be able to accept that? Could you? If you could, then you would have a choice! Then, you could stop trying to avoid the future and instead use it to see your present as if it was your past. Then, your would not be overwhelmed by the need to know what to do now. Instead, you would be left with a simple task - to choose the past you would rather have.
That new point of view gave him a totally different perspective. He imagined that all his life had already passed in trying to make the right choices, trying to make others happy, spending all his time and money on his wife and kids. Then, he imagined living a different life, a life without wife or kids, feeling lonely most of the day, having nobody to comfort him and to take care of him when he felt down. Now that he had two different lives and accepted both despite them ending in disappointment, all he had to do was to choose which of these would he rather live. The answer was so surprisingly simple, that he could not believe he had trouble seeing it before. It was right here, inside of him all that time while he was trying to find it in the outside world. Finally, the question was no more.
He took one step back from the altar, then another, then he started walking faster and faster getting farther and farther from his worried looking bride who, by the look on her face, realized that her dreams of getting married today just evaporated into the thin morning air.
* * *
He had never experienced this kind of freedom before, the freedom of knowing how to make a choice without any fear of disappointment in the future. It all was so easy for him now since he agreed to be disappointed about everything at the end. The fog in his mind was lifted and for the first time he saw clearly that he never really wished for anything else but to enjoy his life while he could.
Sitting in his favorite restaurant at his personal table again, he smiled to himself. He knew that with the choices he made his life might be quite lonely since few people were likely to agree with him. That didn't bother him at all. Let them live their boring lives full of marital problems, let them spend everything they have on their wives and kids and still have nothing to enjoy, not now, not in the future. That was their choice, not his. He accepted his future. He saw it. And it was great...