Decisions & The Fig Tree

Master of None, Sylvia Plath, and making those life choices.

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First point to make – watch Master of None. It’s an excellent show that touches on a lot of important issues. I’ve watched both seasons twice through now and it really resonates.

One part is near the end of season one. Dev (Aziz Ansari) is trying to decide what to make of his life, and his dad quotes Sylvia Plath:

“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.”

This quote popped back up when I was talking to a friend about what we miss most about childhood. Aside from having less responsibilities, missing recess, and watching Recess, one of the biggest things was having a lot more opportunities in front of me. It was the beginning of the fig tree, with none of the fruit yet chosen.

Some days it looks like there are a hell of a lot less figs than before. A lot of life has been set – high school, my University choice, my degrees, past relationships. Then I see my friends doing bold and daring things, and realize that some of the figs are just obscured by leaves right now.

While others found those next step figs, some of us may just be behind. Haven’t found that life partner one? Well, maybe you’ve got the job security someone wanted. Or maybe you’ve taken the trip someone has dreamed of. You have the body, the friends, the experiences, the skills, the whatever, that someone else is still looking for.

My friends do some really great stuff, and it makes me so happy to see them just out there living. All of us keep on picking these figs, and I don’t think we’re looking back on the ones we never chose. Instead, remember to choose. Take a chance, do the thing, make your own way. Don’t just sit there under the tree and watch them all die.

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