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. … 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.
– The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath
I first read The Bell Jar in the summer of 1999 when I was twenty years old. There was a lot of the book that I immediately related to, and this quote was no exception. All my life, there were too many things I wanted all pulling me in different directions. A lot of the time, circumstances dictated my path rather than me making my own choices. I spent a lot of my twenties and early thirties waffling between multiple choices and clinging to dreams that 1) were so old that I wasn’t even sure I wanted them any longer, and 2) were fairly impractical even if I did still want them. And with the last five years or so picking apart and erasing a giant chunk of my identity, I’m in a place where I get to start over from scratch and really figure out what comes next. Which means picking a fig.
I turn 40 on Friday. I’ve spent the last fifteen years working as a stay at home mom with one-day intentions of returning to school to complete my degree even though I really don’t want to. There’s only a few years left before my kids are all off to college, and I need to think about the next phase of my life. Everything kinda got put on hold when I had Morrigan at 21, and in the last two decades, I’ve been stuck. It’s time to get unstuck. Few figs are left on that tree, and I’m sick of staring upwards in indecision.
On Wednesday, I had an ah-ha moment. I thought about the ambitions/dreams/plans I had for my life, and what the motivations behind them were. I thought really hard about the realities of those ambitions/dreams/plans. And I had a few personal revelations about what I want to do with the rest of my life. It was like, on the eve of my 40th birthday, I finally realized what I wanted to do when I grew up. I know, in a very general way, what my next steps are. (First one being to make the “general way” more specific!) It’s all knew and exciting/terrifying, and I’m not ready to discuss details publicly yet. But Jason and I are already starting to look into the practicalities of how to move forward, and I have a good idea of how the next two to three years will play out.
I hope to talk more about this soon. In the meantime, I’m just happy to have chosen a fig, and to be moving down a path instead of wandering aimlessly.