Monday, October 19, 2015

Black figs and other fruitless decisions.


“I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story. From the tip of every branch, like a fat purple fig, a wonderful future beckoned and winked. One fig was a husband and a happy home and children, and another fig was a famous poet and another fig was a brilliant professor, and another fig was Ee Gee, the amazing editor, and another fig was Europe and Africa and South America, and another fig was Constantin and Socrates and Attila and a pack of other lovers with queer names and offbeat professions, and another fig was an Olympic lady crew champion, and beyond and above these figs were many more figs I couldn't quite make out. I saw myself sitting in the crotch of this fig tree, starving to death, just because I couldn't make up my mind which of the figs I would choose. I wanted each and every one of them, but choosing one meant losing all the rest, and, as I sat there, unable to decide, the figs began to wrinkle and go black, and, one by one, they plopped to the ground at my feet.”
-Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

I read this quote from the Bell Jar and it perfectly described how I've been feeling the past few years. Here I sit, with all of these opportunities laid out in front of me, doing absolutely nothing, yet dying to be funneling my energy into the thing that I was meant to do; the thing that will have given my life purpose.

But how do you figure out the thing you're meant to do, when it means that you will be discarding all other opportunities? What if you choose and you're wrong? What if you never choose, and you live your entire life, stagnant and unfilled? What if you have genius inside and that vibrance, the light that inspires you, just dies silently, having made no impact at all? Will your life have been wasted?

There are times in life when we have to make hard choices, that's a given. Who to marry, where to live, when to cut someone out, or let someone in; when to pull the plug on things that no longer serve us. We make these choices because we trip over them and can't continue until we decide to pull the trigger. Sometimes we have to make hard choices about who we need to be at the moment, because we have families to support, mouthes to feed, bills to pay. I didn't start out my life wanting to be a stay at home mother, but I had to make the call and put the needs of the people in my household over my own needs. We choose jobs that are based on circumstance and not on fulfillment, and end up miserable. 

I love my kids more than words could describe, but I have honestly felt quite stifled by staying home, and told myself that I would have my shit together by the time they all went to school. Well, now they're in school and I have nothing figured out. I have no answers, only the huge, looming commitments that hold the power to defining my entire being. No pressure though.

Maybe this is what a midlife crisis is-- Not being able to decide exactly who, or what you are, and panicking at the though of letting go and watching opportunity after opportunity pass you by, while you stand, frozen in a hell of your own making. Am I supposed to buy a Porsche now?

I know what I'm NOT. That's easy. I suck at math and memorizing things just isn't my forte. I can go through the process of elimination and take away those things that I know I could never do, but it's the things that I know I could do, and potentially do brilliantly, that eat me up inside.

So where do you go when you don't know where or who you want to commit to being? Should I throw myself into becoming a writer? Should I pursue comics? Do I want to go back to grad school and become a Psychologist? What if I chose something and then I suck at it? How many years will I have wasted? How much rejection and self flagellation will I be faced with? Am I setting myself up for failure by choosing the wrong path? Will I pick a fig and find it filled with worms?

I'm starved for answers and the more I think about it, the more questions and doubts seem to surface. 

So here I sit, staring down opportunity. Doing absolutely nothing and praying that the answer strikes me before this entire situation becomes a moot point.

Anyone else?


  1. I think you and I are definitely on the same wavelength. Let me know when you get it figured out!

  2. Thanks for your comment, Mamarific! As soon as I gain some insight I will wave you down!

  3. Thanks for your comment, Mamarific! As soon as I gain some insight I will wave you down!

  4. You don't have to choose just one fig... you can pluck a few! You can be a writer in grad school who makes comics. Of course, this is coming from a guy who has on occasion overcommited himself. But still... I hope you won't continue to feel like picking one fig rules out all others.

    1. Overcommitment is my achille's heel. I have three kids, a job, errands-- a full day, jammed packed with stuff without adding to it. I hesitate to make a move toward adding something to the chaos because I've convinced myself somehow that, if I do take on a new commitment, it better damned well be the right one. But I do long for that sense of fulfillment and the answers a properly defined path seem to bring. Thanks for commenting, Daniel! Maybe it's as easy as eeny, meany, miny, moe and I've overthinking it.

  5. You need to start somewhere. Whatever fig it is - just pick the one that most important right now and go with it. Having regrets about not trying is worse than trying and failing. Fail fast and move on. Don't be worried about chaos or what it would turn out to be. The time is now. Just grab it! Hugs!

  6. Sounds like you are at a real crossroads. I think the only mistake you can make is to stand still! Time isn't wasted if you're pursuing something you're passionate about it, even if you go down a different road in the end. Good luck, and thanks for sharing at the Manic Mondays blog hop!