Life isn’t about the road you choose, so much as it is about how you travel that road.
I’ve been a fan of the Robert Frost poem, The Road Not Taken, since my teenage years.
And I, like virtually everyone else, I referred to the poem with the sense that the author was telling the reader to make choices outside the mainstream and to embrace the paths in life that held the rougher journey – all with the understanding that these choices would lead to an extraordinary life. Take a read:
The Road Not Taken
By Robert Frost
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.
However, a couple years back I printed the poem to read to my young boys in the hopes that they might begin to ask questions about the meaning of the poem – allowing me guide and inform them. But, as I read the poem to the boys, I realized my vague understanding of the poem was entirely wrong.
After completing some cursory research, I found that the author was simply telling us that each road in his poem was, in fact, about the same. And, the traveler knew that he or she would not come back this way again – leaving one road un-traversed. The actor in the poem laments the idea that he/she would not have the chance to come back and travel the other road, but admits that in old age, he/she would romanticize the choice as making all the difference in his/her travels.
The poem, then, is about the human condition, our choices, and our need to justify our choices in old age – not what I was hoping. In fact, after researching the poem, I wanted to punch Robert Frost in the face. What on earth is he talking about?
After some reflection, however, I came to a much better conclusion – stumbled onto a universal truth to be exact.
The truth is, it matters far less what road we choose – the critical issue is how we travel the roads chosen.
There are many roads to each destination, and in my experience, what really matters in the end is, did you remain true to your ethos, did you fight the good fight, did you stand up to be counted when it mattered? Did you?
The most important decision often isn’t the road you’re taking. The most important decision, the one Frost says has made all the difference is the answer the to question – Did You?
Train hard. The fight of your life happens everyday. Answer the bell.