“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.” I was thinking of this quote by Sylvia Plath today. How it captures how I’m feeling today.
It’s so true about human desire. More often than not we have more than one desire at a time, often some conflicting one another. Some, even conflicted by the reality of responsibility, an idea that often betrays logic. It’s why I resist moving forward as a spiritual teacher or life coach. Far too often we try to advise others on “what’s right,” or “what’s loving,” when what is really right is to simply be present with another as she feels her way through the layers of decisions—both hers and others—which landed her in her current life position and then listen non-judgmentally as she, like Sylvia Plath begins to understand what she’s feeling. Then and only then is a person capable of pausing for thought and asking themselves, “Of this list of wants, which do I want most?” It’s only when a person gets to this point that she can understand herself and begin to order her desires from most important, to least.
For example, when I was a child, having a baby and being a mother was high on my list. Now that I’m older and a parent, I’ve discovered that my mother put a belief inside me that being a mom was an ideal for women. She taught me to be a caretaker and it’s taken me nearly two decades to realize that an abundance of my unhappiness is rooted in adopting other people’s desires and beliefs as one’s own. This said, does it mean I’m saying I don’t want to be a mom or that I regret becoming a mom? Not at all. Motherhood has awarded me the grandest of educations and provided me with the gift of consciousness. I have become the woman I am today because of my daughter’s influence.
She has taught me that our life is a profound gift. I’ve learned that love isn’t love until we give it away. She’s made it possible for me to order my list of desires, not by wants, but instead by what matters—what transcends the here and now. She’s taught me what love is and in doing so enables me to prioritize my list of desires. As mother’s day approaches, maybe this song can help you with whatever you are struggling with.
Much love, dear friends!! ❤️❤️