Thursday, July 30, 2009

Crossroads



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.


~Robert Frost, "The Road Not Taken"

The picture is hard to see, but one road sign says YOUR LIFE and the other says NO LONGER AN OPTION. I love this. I found this picture many years ago, but it's proved to be relevant many times in my life ever since. How often are we brave enough to even know that one way is no longer an option? How do we know the road signs are facing in the right direction, and that the NO LONGER AN OPTION route is truly going nowhere?

This poem is one of my favorites. Frost himself says that this is a "tricky poem," and the more times I read it, the more I understand what he means. It's oftentimes interpreted as inspirational; a poem of self realization. But I'm not sure it is.

The person in this poem didn't make his choice lightly. He says, "long I stood" and he looked as far down that road as he could see. The second road he refers to is greener, it looks better - until he realizes that it really doesn't - and it's the road he ends up choosing. And even though he intends to revisit the first one, knowing that "way leads on to way", he realistically knows it won't happen. In the end, he makes no claim that the road he chose was the right one; just that it made all the difference - a difference that he does not define as good or bad. I think Frost's bottom line (the "tricky" message of the poem) is that choice is inevitable, but we really don't know what the impact of our choices are until they've been made and lived.

The person in this poem could have started down one road, and if it didn't please him, just turn back. We all have choices and sometimes those choices are not definitive - we can turn back. But do we ever want to go back to where our journey began? Has that ever worked for anyone?

What if we choose one road and spend the rest of our lives second guessing our decision? Or even just wondering? Is that even healthy?

How do we know?

Well, I guess we just do.
Intuition, discernment, gut feelings, divine intervention. We just know.

And today...I just know.

Thank God I just know.

2 comments:

John said...

First of all? I love how you think things through and then how you put it into writing that makes sense.

Secondly? Wow! You ask a lot of good questions here, such as: "How do we know the road signs are facing in the right direction...?" and, "But do we ever want to go back to where our journey began? Has that ever worked for anyone?" Once again, wow. I will mull those over for quite a while.

This was worth waiting for :)

The 'knowing' you talk about is one of life's lasting truths. You DO just know. And I can't really convey to you in this venue how glad I am that you decided--and it is a decision--to do what you know. That is not easy by any means! Way to go Steph, way to go!

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