In 1915 Robert Frost wrote one of his most famous poems ever. It started out merely as a joke to one of his dear friends and walking buddies, Edward Thomas, who often-times was unable to decide which path to go down on their afternoon strolls.
“The Road not Taken” has been quoted in graduation speeches, motivational mantras and so much more. We will hear it misquoted as “the road less travelled”, which has a similar, but different connotation. I have quoted it myself, sometimes correctly, but more often not.
In case you have never read or heard it I want to put it here for you to read.
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 – written in 1915.
As I read the history and how Frost really meant it… as a joke to his friend who could never make you his mind on their walks… I realized something…
We spend so much time worrying about taking the road less travelled. That it’s important to be different. Find what makes us unique. But we miss the boat. Frost wrote this to his friend as a tongue-in-cheek poem and even Edward Thomas to it so serious. He wrote Frost back thanking him for his deep words. But in reality I think the truth is deeper. It doesn’t matter which road we take, what matters is we keep moving forward. We get out there and walk! We push forward on either road. Because that is where the reward comes in. Most likely I have never been on either of these roads… it only says that others have travelled on them.
I think that’s the beauty of these words. After all this time I am seeing a bit more clearly. I just need to move forward. Travel any road I come to. Turning right or left will still lead me to an adventure. I will uncover joy no matter which road I go down.
Thank you Mr. Frost! Nearly 105 years later and your words speak even louder than before!