A friend told me about Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken”. This is it.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood / And sorry I could not travel both / And be one traveler, long I stood / And looked down one as far as I could / To where it bent in the undergrowth
Then took the other, as just as fair, / And having perhaps the better claim, / Because it was grassy and wanted wear, / Though as for that the passing there / Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay / In leaves no step had trodden black. / Oh, I kept the first for another day! / Yet knowing how way leads on to way, / I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh / Somewhere ages and ages hence: / Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – / I took the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference.
I guess we all come to major crossroads at some point, to listen to the part of us that craves to do something with our lives that’s meaningful to us, regardless of whether it makes sense to anybody else. It often flies in the face of everything we’ve been taught is practical and can lead to success and happiness.
I suppose that’s the road less travelled. There aren’t any exterior signposts – this is the right way, turn here, stop here etc. – because nobody has travelled that road before. It’s your road. Nobody can tell you with any authority what’s right or wrong about it. The only guiding light you have is from within, a voice that says “this feels right” or “this feels wrong”. It doesn’t always make sense, even, but the more you listen, the easier it gets to hear it. When you don’t listen you always get to realize later why that wasn’t an optimum choice.
That road can look very unsafe from the outside, because it isn’t 100% controllable, it requires a degree of flowing with life, and acknowledging that we don’t make everything happen. We play a distinct role but that’s about it. J.K. Rowling wasn’t able to control any of the publishers who rejected her first Harry Potter book, and nor could she control the employee in a publishing firm who picked up her manuscript from a pile and read it, then went to her editor, said I think this is good.
The only thing she could do – and she did it – was listen to her heart, write her novel in the way she wanted to, and send it out into the world. I’ve read somewhere she was living off the dole at the time. Imagine if she’d said to herself there’s no point in writing this book, nobody else has written one like it, I’d better just go and get a 9-5 job and be practical, realistic. If she had, she’d never have known what she was throwing away, but I bet she’d have been frustrated as hell.
I don’t suppose choosing the road less travelled always leads to such huge fame and fortune success, but I do believe it brings the kind of reward that remains with you, that isn’t fleeting, and that has the deepest meaning, the one that’s most fulfilling for you.
Crossroads –I don’t think we just come to one in our lives; I think we face them all the time, every time we make a decision, a choice around what we do with our lives and our relationships. And I know we can’t go back in time and walk down the road we didn’t choose, but I do believe we can stop at any point along the way and say “I’m changing direction. This way that I chose isn’t the right one for me”.
Life is a fluid thing. It can be hard to flow with it, give up a degree of control, and hot foot it down the road less traveled.
But I reckon it’s even harder not to.