Whenever I sit down and try to think of which road ahead I should take, I think of two things. One is the Frost poem, “two roads diverged in the wood, and I took the less travelled by” and so on. The other thing is that I have four years to make any sort of decision, so why do I need to make one now?
I work best when I have a goal. I can be a focused blinkered little beaver slogging on toward the goal I have in my head, and I can be stubborn enough to persist until I achieve it. Or fail to achieve it, as the case may be, and as the case was with the whole “Imma gonna get into Cambridge and be cool”.
Since then I really haven’t had a goal, and I think that is not so good, so maybe I should really sit down and think about something tangible, because floundering around apparently isn’t for me. Maybe I should just get some tangential little goal that I can abandon if something more solid comes along?
Ah, that’s the rub – I can’t think of anything that could fill that role, and that’s why I think of Robert Frost’s poem. Most people think that Robert Frost was cheering the outsider, the one that walked his own path. I am not so sure that Frost didn’t mean it as a lament, that the road less travelled wasn’t the harder and the more lonesome one for little reward at the destination. The cliché that has grown up around this poem aren’t true, and the lines I’ve bolded in the middle of the poem shows this. Neither of the road is less travelled by, because both are equally worn.
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, 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 travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost – “The Road not Taken”
What this poem says to me is that choices are illusions at the moment of decision. You look at something, and you let your perceptions fool you. When you head down a path, you see that people have been there before. It’s not a unique choice; it is not the road less travelled. And when you realise that, you regret it, with a sigh. Like, “yet knowing how way leads to way, I doubted if I should ever come back”. If I chose a path, some path, any path, then maybe I’ll look back with a sigh, and realise that my choice now made all the difference, and that I should have chosen the other road.
The indecision is locking me up. I need a goal. I work best with a goal, even if I fail to achieve the goal. Mark isn’t home yet, and I need him to come home and slap me so I get out of this stupor. 😀