Sylvia Plath writes,
“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 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 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 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.”
Plath’s biography reads as almost this entire list of accomplishments achieved in less than three decades on Earth.
At thirty, she put out milk and bread for her sleeping babes one morning, sealed their room shut, and stuck her head in the oven and killed herself. She describes the feeling of living under the lid of a bell jar, through which one can only make out a distorted view of the world around her because her internal world is an avalanche of chaos and oppression. When temporary relief is found, the lid ascends enough to allow air for coping, but only to remind that eventually, inevitably, the lid will close again leaving her gasping for a breath of life she can call her own.
When one finds herself starving for the fruit of knowledge, the sweet taste of experience, burning, primitive desire for reproduction; the joining of lives between lovers and then soon later the clawing and scratching out of the trap she built herself into, there begins the crisis.
Cycles begin of overeating, dieting, depression, antidepressants, alcohol, shopping addictions, neurotic spousal co-dependence or robotic functioning through a life that seems as familiar as the topography of Mars.
So when someone asks if I believe in reincarnation, my answer is an abounding YES. Because without the hope of another chance to try again, to choose each of the figs, 10 small decades isn’t nearly enough.