Saturday, January 8, 2011

Road Most Traveled

Robert Frost (1874–1963).  Mountain Interval.  1920.

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;        5

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,        10

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.        15

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.        20

I have virtually no opinion of the above poem. However, every time someone talks about taking "the road less traveled" as some great thing, I swallow back a whole lot of rant. Where is it ever stated that the narrator was proud or even happy that he took the unbeaten path? What I read is that he spoke with a sigh... and that the choice "made all the difference." That last phrase can be read similarly to the backhanded compliment that something is "unforgettable."

Personally, I am a firm believer in not being outstanding. I believe in doing what you do well and with your head high. Aiming high, dreaming is not for me. I dream of having a mid-level salaried job, a cozy (see: small) house, a dog and little to know financial responsibility (see: kids). I don't have the urge to be famous, popular or rich (see: Trump).

I'm not sure if these life choices are about being realistic. I just think that life's disappointments are more readily reached when you try get rich schemes or to hack it out into the world on your own. I'd prefer to age into moderate wealth over winning the lottery.

This mind set keeps me happy. That and the idea that every setback is an opportunity in disguise.

Something about growing up poor makes you feel like at any moment the bottom could drop out. I am building my sand castle one grain at a time. Right now, my life is great; I am taking the road most traveled (in America). (We can talk about how the "American Way" is the only way in modern lit later.)

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