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 onto way,
I doubted 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 - another of those poets I know a line or two from but not much more! It's all about making choices, and how those decisions, some of which we make so lightly, so carelessly, can impact on so many aspects of our lives. By choosing one path over another (literal paths in a wood as well as direction in our lives) we change what happens next. The contradictory nature of our selves - saying we'll take the other path another time, while recognising the way that life moves forward, "how way leads onto way", and how this means that in reality we don't think we will return to take that other path. The reasoning behind these choices too - taking the less popular route, and recognising that that has altered what we're doing as well as where we're headed. Do you think that relates to the thinking of so many of us - that we're somehow different from everyone else? Like teenagers desperate to fit in by being seen to rebel, whether that's against a specific authority such as our parents or school or a more general disregard for cultural norms, expressed by, for example, tattoos, body piercings, or choices of clothing. Does the imagery of taking the path "less traveled" play to our egos, our feeling of uniqueness?
* * * * *
Another aspect involved here is the element of control - commenting that our lives have gone the way they have because of a specific choice we made, a conscious decision that we can take credit for. Do you think that this links to faith (whether a recognised organised religion or a more individualised system of moral codes and values)? By turning random chance into either choices and decisions made by a sentient overlord; determination by a universe-wide system of checks and balances; or the power of free will and individual autonomy, we begin to assign kudos or blame. By claiming that the element of our lives "that has made all the difference" was a conscious decision, a carefully considered weighing up of the pros and con's, we are taking ownership of the outcome, taking responsibility for the impact of that choice.
* * * * *
For me, I think of my most influential forks in the road was the series of decisions I made as a teenager which led to my going into local authority care - if I had continued where I was I don't believe I would still be alive. Another time of obvious decisions to be made was after Smiler was born - I can't imagine what our lives would be like without him now, but there were a number of alternative paths in those woods. How about you - is there a fork in your path that has had made all the difference?