The other day, I ran into this AMAZING Sylvia Plath quote, from the book The Bell Jar:
“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.”
Mind. Blown! Such a simple way to describe the choices we make in our lives.
It’s amazing how many choices are made for us as a result of our circumstances. Perhaps our parents’ professions push us to make a certain career choice while in high school/college, and our education leads us down one path. By the time we’re in our 30s, 40s, and 50s, we’ve gone so far down that specific path that there’s no turning back. A lot of the choices were made for us, and yet we had the chance to make choices for ourselves. Often, we ended up NOT making choices, simply because–like the figs–there were so many to choose from.
All those figs look so good, and they each have their own unique attraction. We stare at them all, wishing we could choose them all. But we can’t. We have to pluck one fig, and that’s the ONLY one we get.
“What if I choose the wrong one?” A question all of us ponder at some point in our lives. More often than not, we make a choice that could be “wrong”. All we can do is learn from the choice, adjust our course, and try to make the “right” choice next time.
But worse than making the wrong choice is making no choice at all! If you try to cling to too many “figs”, they will all wrinkle, go black, and fall to the ground at your feet.
To paraphrase another Sylvia Plath quote:
“You can never read all the books you want. You can never be all the people you want and love all the lives you want. You can never train yourself in all the skills you want.”
That means you have to make a choice. Why not make it sooner rather than later? Look at all the figs on the tree and decide which one is the one you want most of all. Once you’ve made the choice, never look back!