A favorite poem of mine is Robert Frost‘s The Road Not Taken. While some use it as a rallying call to walk one’s own path (the road less traveled by). Yet, I believe its meaning is far deeper and more sublte.
It’s really about choice.
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.
All of us reach different crossroads in our lives. Before us lays two different, diverging paths. We have to choose, as we can’t travel down both. Choosing one precludes the other, and vice versa.
Some attempt to negate the choice by simply refusing to make it. However, inevitably, the forces of life and nature will force one down one of the paths, even without a conscious choice.
It’s far better to choose—to act than be acted upon.
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.
So, the choice is made, and we select our path, and thereby our eventual destination. The reality is both paths, however fair in appearance, are fraught with unknown dangers because life is full of unknown dangers.
As Ella Wheeler Wilcox reminds us, “‘Tis the set of the sails and not the gales, that tells the way we go.” With purpose and choice we should walk down the paths of life, constantly choosing those with our desired destination in mind.
The path, even the one less traveled by, still is worn from the feet of others. Along our journey, we should seek the companionship of fellow travelers headed in the same direction. They will add spice and beauty to the path trodden.
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.
And, while we may desire to return back, to take the other path, it’s not likely to happen. Path leads on to path, and new decisions will be made, with the eventual goal and destination in mind.
Correcting the course is possible, though sometimes difficult. However, the exact same choice will not be presented again. So, you must choose, but choose wisely.
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.
So, as we look back over our lives, it will become apparent that it’s the choices that have molded us into who we will eventually become. Hopefully, all of our choices will cause us to grow and become better people, though it’s likely sometimes we’ll have chosen “sub-optimally”. When that happens, remember, there’s another set of choices waiting in the wings.
Dreams and World Domination
A recurring topic and source of material on this blog is the World Domination Summit. The reason I first decided to attend this amazing conference was when I saw the trailer for “I’m Fine, Thanks” and found out it had premiered at WDS 2012.
Clearly, if there were people who not only felt this strongly about following their dreams and making conscious decisions, but also went and followed up with action, I wanted to know them. It’s led to my attendance each year since.
This year, out of the many, many great talks, I think my favorite was the one given by Michael Hyatt. Noted expert on leadership, he gave a very personal talk about some of his own life experiences.
He specifically talked about how most people tend to live a life that falls into one of two categories:
- The Drifting Life – In this case, people simply let life happen to them. They are those who either try to not make the decision of which path to follow, or who choose the path of least resistance, never considering the destination.
- The Driven Life – These are the ones who have bought into the world’s definition of success, and who then drive themselves to achieve it at all costs. And, often the costs are high. They are out to win, and only to win.
Unfortunately, in the end, most people are not particularly thrilled with the destinations produced by either of these approaches to life. As one of the women in the “I’m Fine, Thanks” trailer said, it’s like spending one’s life climbing a ladder only then to discover it’s leaned up against the wrong wall.
There is an alternative.
— Trev Harmon (@trev_harmon) July 13, 2014
It’s to choose, to make a conscious decision of where it is we want to go, what we want to accomplish and who we want to be. It’s to understand and remember dreams are important.
It’s to treat life as the gift that it is.
Then, the path chosen will make all of the difference.