It was in the seventh grade that I first read The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost. At first read it was the image of being in leafy woods, alone with Nature, that drew me closer. I could smell the leaves, yellow and brown and I drew a still closer. The air was crisp and once I reached down to feel the softness of the grass I couldn't help myself . I tumbled headlong into that poem and have never really left it.
A bit older than when I first fell into the poem, but certainly not wise, I truly believed there was one best road for me and if I looked carefully enough I would see which one it was. They all looked good to me then. And although I couldn't see what lay beyond the bend in the road, there was no reason to believe that it would be anything less perfect than what I could see from that painless vantage.
And so we, my friends and I, like woodland faeries scattered with the breeze. Some landed well. They found destinations. But I wasn't ready for a destination, and I thought that I could always find my way back to where the roads split and make a different choice. It couldn't be that serious. It was only beautiful, timeless, carefree routes through a lovely wood. I thought to know all the roads. My plan was to do it all. Simple. Spring, summer, autumn days stretched out endlessly with not a sign of winter.
And down the road I went and found so many turns. A tree fallen across the path. A bridge washed out, but never mind. I trekked to the nearest, clearest turn, sometimes cross-country. Sometimes through moss, sometimes though briers. I began to understand that way leads on to way and I doubted that I would ever go back.
II found a fellow traveler, and tired of choosing by myself, followed him for a while. Sometimes the road was rocky and the grass overgrazed and brown and I longed for those first two roads, both beautiful and inviting. Only two. So easy. I thought about the title. It is not The Road Less Travelled. It is The Road Not Taken.
And so I tell my story with a sigh. Did the poem mean a sign of regret? Of joy? Of frustration? If we quickly turn to see where we've been the setting sun temporarily blinds us and we see only that - the setting sun.
I chose. We all chose. We chose our roads without seriousness or guilt, but with every consequence. And I continue to choose, refusing the illusion of a destination. And every time I choose it makes all the difference.
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
For 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!
Though 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 travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.