The fig tree

Lately it seems like all my friends are having babies, getting PhDs and doing other grown up things. Thinking about it makes me angsty, because I still haven’t really clicked that I’m not a teenager anymore. Most of the time I feel like my life is rushing past at a speed I can’t keep up with, and I’m doing nothing with it. There are all these possibilities of cool things I could be doing but I just don’t know what decision to make. Do I stay in Aotearoa or go back to Palestine? Do I go back to school or try to find paid work? Do I focus my energy on writing and music or do I channel it all into revolutionary activism? Do I settle down in one place or keep moving? Will I sit at home paralysed by the stress of having to decide until there are no longer any possibilities left?

I think it’s a specific kind of distress that Sylvia Plath captured perfectly, and every time I start thinking like this I have to go find my copy of The Bell Jar and re-read this 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.

 

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