Quote of Inspiration

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 Atilla 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

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Quote 8 of 52

This week's quote is from Sylvia Plath, and I chose it because I love it, I understand it and it seems applicable for this week - since I'll be finishing one fig (Siddhartha - page 18 as of this morning) and continuing on with another fig (still undetermined). So, I'll be simultaneously figging.

On to the quote.

If neurotic is wanting two mutually exclusive things at one and the same time, then I am neurotic as hell. I'll be flying back and forth between one mutually exclusive thing and another for the rest of my days.

I have heard there are people who don't feel this way, and I guess I have to accept this is true. I mean, if someone tells it to you, then you have to believe it (I spent a lot of my youth not believing what people told me, and it was really exhausting). So, if someone tells me that he (let's face it - it's usually a he) doesn't want two mutually exclusive things at one time, that he doesn't think of life that way, that he isn't plagued by this sort of competing desire, well then I must believe it's true. It's just that there is a little place in the back of my mind that is screaming: liar. Okay, that's not very nice of me, and the fact is that it's not even accurate, because I think that it's likely true. I think there are people who want what life has to offer, who can take what comes and live in the moment and not want so much more that it makes them restless. I'm not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, I am jealous of these people because it is torture to want so many mutually exclusive things at one time. It's exhausting and overwhelming, because my wanting of them is just as strong for one as it is for the other, so there really is no relief in choosing one - the wanting doesn't go away. I am jealous of people (really, I am) who don't have this internal battle, who want one thing or another thing but none of those things really compete with each other, and the wanting of things isn't so strong as to make a person miserable.

But then I can't imagine being any other way, being without the wanting and the desire. I think it would be the death of me, even if it's already the death of me, and I think life would be boring and tedious without it. It's so normal for me that I think I would feel naked if I didn't experience these conflicting/competing desires on a regular basis.

I'm learning, however, that it doesn't really matter what another person is or if our own person makes us neurotic as hell. We are who we are; we can't change it. I really don't believe we can change the core of what we're made of, so the only option we're left with is to embrace it, try our best to temper whatever makes us (or others) miserable and make the most of it.
But the beautiful thing about writing is that we don't feel quite so alone when someone else expresses the same sentiment.

1 comment:

  1. You're not alone MamaP.

    I have so many competing desires and it's driven me to the point of inertia. BUT... the Fig Quote you posted helps me accept the fact that I can't do it all....that I must accept the opportunity costs...but that I MUST choose something(s) and get my butt moving on them or they will all shrivel...so in addition to accepting the opportunity costs, the next important thing (besides consistent action towards a fig) is choosing those figs most important...

    If you knew you were going to die in a few months or a year, which 1-5 figs would you absolutely need to do before you checked out? That question is more for me, but hope it helps.

    Keep up the fig plucking!



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