The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –

I took the one less traveled by’d

And that made all the difference.

Recently I had reason to look up this wonderful poem by Robert Frost; I suspect it is the first time I have ever reviewed it in full and I felt a sense of injustice had been done because the poem is so much richer and meaningful in its entirety. I had always related to the final few lines because they seemed to reflect some of the strange and perhaps radical decisions I have made in my life. Abandoning my job, friends and wife to pursue a mid-life passion seemed to me to reflect Robert Frost’s perspective yet as I consider the whole poem I think I am entirely wrong. Robert Frost’s decision in his poem is a very conscious one fully weighing up the claims of both possibilities before selecting the one he finally took. It was judicious, thoughtful, contemplative and reflective while my road less traveled was in hindsight the result of compulsive obsession. Robert Frost’s perspective had much more in common with the conscious decision-making perspective reflected in the DecisionClarity process than I had ever thought possible.

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

This suggests a contemplative decision where both options are examined. He did not rush for “long he stood”. He took into account everything he could see or assess. In the DecisionClarity process we consciously assess all aspects of a decision by looking at thoughts, feelings and fears impacting each possible path.

Then took the other 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,

At first we get the impression that one road is much more traveled and that the attraction is for the freshness of the alternative. Yet he confesses that perhaps there is not as much difference as he had anticipated. This reminds me to ensure that I am being really honest with myself when I am considering options. The only person that I fool by my delusion is myself.

And both that morning 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 be back.

The wisdom of understanding our own limitations. Sometimes we want to convince ourselves that we don’t really need to worry about a decision; we believe that it will all be fine; we convince ourselves that we will always have a second chance. The pragmatic Frost reminds us that despite our best intentions that may not be the case as he goes on to say:

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhat ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –

I took the one less traveled by,

And that made all the difference.

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