The Fig Tree

I’ve never read any Sylvia Plath. I now see this is a grave oversight of mine. I read this today and it really spoke to me, just like when I was a kid reading Little Women and knowing I had a soul mate in Jo. I love it when that happens. It makes me feel less crazy, and certainly less alone.

This is the passage:

“…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, Chapter 7"

Who shall I be? Writer? Mother? Business woman? Academic? Traveller? Journalist?

This is where I am in life. Already I have watched figs wither and drop. But I view this optimistically, as with every dead fig a new one grows.

I cannot be all things, as much as I may try to be. I need to pick my figs, make my decisions, and live a great life in the roles that I choose. And it will be a great life. I know this.

I just pray the decisions I make are wise ones.


The Fig Tree

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