only leaves

by cjra

i used to think there was an afterlife, or at least i used to look forward to one. i’ve given up on the idea of that, but i’m actually not sure which outcome makes me more afraid.

an afterlife is a great excuse to put things off, to avoid glances, and to believe you are doing good when really you are only trying to serve yourself. but thinking about the after life can also give you a kind of hope if you view it as green fields and shining young men who will make everything right just by putting their arms around you. and eternity, eternity to do the things you never put yourself up to. i used to think i had the rest of forever if i wanted to be  a painter, a poet, a dancer, a floater among stars, etc.

but then came that necessary path to critical thinking, and a loss of passion for love i could only feel was forced upon me. inside religion, my self-love could not breathe, even if i stepped toward it during prayer, but only if i was completely alone, and only if the light was particularly slanted through the window glass.

oh, and only if i insulted myself to be forgiven for any sins i had committed that day.

it’s not this way for everyone, and i understand. but i realized slowly. men had their fingerprints all over everything–thousands of years–the text: the images of a woman split into quarters and dragged across israel. the flawless skin we saw on our screens: even the arch of ariel’s back in the little mermaid and the glittered lips i admired in seventeen. i could not avoid it.

the point is, without an afterlife i still wonder who i am going to be and where i am. that hasn’t changed. my friend shared a comic someone made about plath sitting under the fig tree, watching all her options fall and wither because she could not decide. hopefully, it won’t come to that for us.

anyway, in the bible, jesus withers the fig tree himself; punishment for bearing no fruit. but it isn’t even the season for figs.