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
As we each make our way through life, we are often met with two divergent paths, maybe one light and one dark, or perhaps the lesser of two evils or some other variation therein. While the general sense is that choosing “the one less traveled by” is an example of one expressing their freedom of thought and ability to plot their own course, it can also be read as not caring which path is chosen, and not willing to look back and reconsider if the best choice was made.
To me, the importance here is not which path, but the understated lack of care for which path is chosen, or any future reconsideration of that choice. While one could argue that Frost was fine with “making the best of the situation”, to me it is the constant reevaluation your choices that is more important. Constant analysis of your choices, both past and present, is key in gaining wisdom and perspective.
Disregard for past decisions, can be seen in both politics and the recent videos from a former high-ranking Co$ executive. In both cases, it is far more convenient for one to disregard their past words and actions, and attempt to deflect from them, by prescribing the blame or criticism on someone else. Whether they are choosing the road less traveled, or the more popular path, there appears to be no remorse or hindsight gained from the journey. And, that is a true tragedy.
I’d suggest that we all ponder which path to take and make the most of that decision, but always look back and learn from the consequences were missed as a result. One can always revisit the yellow woods and choose a new path, but only if you reflect on your decisions.
The other option, that Frost doesn’t mention, is to forge a whole new path. Rather than follow the only defined “paths”, there is not always a hard rule that does not allow you to determine a path on your own. But, I would warn that this choice may be the less comfortable path, must be done with conviction and employ all relevant wisdom and knowledge available. And, you cannot disregard the benefit of reflection.
In the end, we are all free to choose any path we like, or forge a new one, but only those who take the effort to reconsider their choices, and adjust as needed, will benefit from gained wisdom and knowledge. And that, makes all the difference in the world.
Stand Up, Speak Out, and Be Heard!