The Road Not Taken
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 (1874–1963). Mountain Interval. 1920.
When I was a child, my mother worked with me until I had the entirety of this piece memorized. Throughout my life, we would recite it together followed by minutes of silence when we would reflect on the choices we had made and were yet to make. Sometimes, when I visit, we still do.
I will forever thank her for this. The philosophy of it has been etched into the person that I am. I have no regrets. Every choice that I have made has led me to where I am today. When I moved to California, my mother disagreed with my choice. We argued about it at long length. Finally, I said to her, “Mama, two roads diverged in a wood, and I- I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
“Alright,” she said with a sigh.
From that moment on, she was supportive of me in my choice.
There is something to be said for a woman who can respect something, even if she disagrees with it, because you are following a lesson she herself has taught you.
We teach our children things so that one day when we can no longer make choices for them, they will be able to make the choices on their own. We never truly realize how terrifying a responsibility this is until we have children of our own. Our children see everything that we do. They are always watching, even when we think they are not. I have to ask myself every day if the choices I make are ones that will lead my children to be the wonderful people I see them to be, if these choices will lead my children to the wonderful lives I wish for them. As a parent, the answer to this question is often, “I don’t know.”