The infinite possibilities of life and the burden of choice

“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 Europe and Africa and South America... 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.”

These lines of Sylvia Plath have often fascinated me. It resonates with me because there is a melancholic feeling every time you have to choose a path when you come to a fork in life. The burden of choosing one over the other brings a certain sadness because I lose that part of me that was rooting for the alternate decision.

 Thats why Yogi Berra said, “When you come to a fork in the road..take it” 😉

 If I chose a stable salary from a corporate managerial job over an uncertain income of a writer, the pragmatist within me may be happy but the writer within me is sad. I have chosen to be a Manager by giving up on being a full-time writer and now my experiences in life are different from that of a writer’s life.

We all have to make choices, good or bad- all the time, this is what life is to the human eye. 

 Although there are concepts in Quantum Physics that believe in multiverses, they are mostly hypothetical and exist in theory more than practice.  As per this multiverse theory, there exist infinite universes beyond what we are living in right now, where the other side of every decision that we took in life exists. So there exists a universe, somewhere to which I have no access, where there is an alternate me who became a writer and did all the things that I chose not to do. 

Go watch the movie-“Everything, everywhere, all at once”- if you want to dwell more on the beauty of this multiverse concept. It's an interesting movie about how you can channel your energies from other universes into the universe where you are. 

Anyway, coming back to choice, and the burden of choice

Borrowing Sylvia Plaths' analogy- what are the different kinds of figs in life that one could pluck? I think by and large, I can put them into three buckets, and then each bucket has its own collection of figs to choose from. 

At a higher level for me, these buckets are:

  • Professional or career bucket
  • Marriage and love bucket
  • Geography bucket-choosing where to live

Each of these has led me to this life, which I am happy with mostly, but the experience of an alternate life is gone. That's why every time I had to choose, a little something in me dies 🙂

Sylvia Plath was far too melancholic, she committed suicide at an early age.  This poem apparently reflects her inherent sadness and how she couldn’t deal with those black figs that were plopping to the ground, like regrets in life!

As healthy human beings, we know how to deal with the sadness that creeps in, in the form of regrets. Regrets become inevitable if you attach too many emotions to a certain outcome. If we look at life with a certain degree of lightness, it becomes easier to deal with. 

As Jaun Aelia has said:

Zindagi fan hai lamho ko

Apne apne andaz me ganwaane ka

Life is an art of losing moments

In every person’s own style

Or as Kurt Vonnegut has said,

“I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different.”

However, it's easier said than done. I think some people find it easier to embrace lightness, while others feel imprisoned by the heaviness of it all. 

We all have to make choices at every crossroads in life. Whatever you choose in life, DON’T QUESTION IT. Embrace the choice and give your all and that will be the elixir!

I am teaching this to myself these days, inspired by these lines from Madhushala by the famous Hindi poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan 

Alag alag path batlaate sab

Mai sabse batlata hoon

Raah pakad tu ek chala chal pa jayega madhu shala

People tell me different paths

 I tell you- you pick just one and keep walking on it, 

 and you will reach the goal


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