Choosing all the figs
I’ve always wanted multiple, concurrent lives.
While working in urban, public schools, I’ve wanted to be out climbing mountains.
While out climbing mountains, I’ve wanted to do work that matters.
While having a home space to be in, I’ve wanted to be a vagabond, traveling at will.
While in partnership, I’ve wanted to be free to connect with new interests as they arrive.
While I love routine and ritual, I’ve wanted to be free and spontaneous, following passions as they come.
If only I could have multiple lives, running at the same time. I want to do both things, whenever faced with a choice. This has made for challenges in choosing where to live. Do I settle for the city? Or settle for the mountains? Neither a settle, of course, but neither perfect in it’s own way.
So much out there that I want to see and experience and do and be. Is there simply too much that I want? Or, too much all at the same time?
This duality that exists in me is part of my complexity, part of the fabric of my soul. A complexity and texture that makes me interesting (at least to myself!) and allows me to be intrigued and amazed by the world. Though, at times, this duality makes it hard for me to make choices, seeing all the possibilities stretched out ahead of me – I want them all, and so, I feel frozen in time.
Recently, I read this from Sylvia Plath, from The Bell Jar (I am woefully unaware of her work):
“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.”
When I read it, I wanted to promise myself that I would move to decide things, not letting the figs go wasted. To make choices, even if it meant loosing another choice.
But easier said than done.
I woke up this morning to a chill in the air, the feeling of fall. One of those beautiful early fall days, crisp, sunny, blue skies. It’s not yet fall, with hopes for more summery days over the next few weeks, but the feeling of transitions, of seasons changing.
September 1st. Tonight, I was scheduled to be on a flight to India; first to Delhi, and then onto Ladakh, for 3 weeks of trekking and climbing in the Himalayas.
I am not on my way to India. Instead, I am sitting on my couch, reading a book, binge-watching The Defenders.
This is not the path I would have chosen. This is not the path of glacier covered mountains, winds through the river valleys, staying in guest houses and hearing the sound of bells on the yaks as they carry goods to small villages. This is not the path of pushing my body, gasping for air in the high altitude, seeing the top of the Stok Kangri, and crossing high mountain passes. This is not the path of momos and apricot jam and dal. This is not the path of adventure and thrill and smiles even with no common language.
But, this is the path I am on. My metaphorical figs chosen for me, without my giving consent.
And so, what to make of that. How to move forward when that path is not the one you would choose. How to to embrace this life, this path, this adventure?
I am not sure I have the answers yet, or that I feel at peace with it yet. The simple answer is that this is the new path. This is the new adventure. I don’t get a choice, so accept it, buck up little camper and move the fuck on. And, part of it is that simple. Yep. This is it. Moving the fuck on.
But, then, there’s this other part. This part of me that is searching for the new fig tree. What choices do I get to make now? What is the new duality?
And so I am learning and looking. Searching for the new options, because I know they are there.