On the walks my husband and I take through Cook Park on the outskirts of Ruston, a diverging path often comes into view, and my mind wanders to Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken.” This poem has been a favorite of mine for decades, and I find myself pondering its meaning time and time again.
In “The Road Not Taken,” Frost speaks of two paths that diverge in a yellow wood, and our usually green Louisiana woods are certainly a good substitute for that. As Frost gazes and ponders, he realizes he cannot not take both routes – that he has to make a decision that will affect the rest of his life.
This poem that is so beloved by me and millions of others speaks simply, but eloquently, of the choices we make, the roads we take and the ones we leave behind. It reminds us that every decision has consequences. And sometimes we wonder …
What would have happened if we had taken the other path?
I remember – as a young girl – blazing a new trail in the woods behind my childhood home, marking it with thumbtacks so I could find my way back. It was a small adventure, but it taught me that sometimes we have to create our own course.
Indeed, I’ve taken many roads in my life, as I’m sure you have, too – some more traveled and some less. I’ve had joys and sorrows, successes and failures, hopes and fears. I’ve met wonderful people and made lasting friendships. I’ve also faced challenges and difficulties, and learned valuable lessons.
As a Christian, I believe that God has a plan for each of our lives and that the choices we make are a part of that plan. Sometimes we make the wrong choice (please envision my hand being raised here), but even then, God can use our mistakes to bring about good. In Romans 8:28, the apostle Paul writes, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
“The Road Not Taken” also speaks to the idea of individuality and being true to oneself. Frost chooses the less traveled path, not because it is easier or more popular but because it’s the one that speaks to him personally. He follows his own instincts and chooses a path that’s uniquely his own.
Even so, as noted earlier, sometimes I wonder about the other road, the one I did not take. Maybe you do the same. What if I hadn’t stayed in Ruston? What if I had pursued a different profession? What if I had married someone else? Would I have been happier? Would I have been more successful? Would I have made a bigger impact on the world?
Frankly, I don’t know the answers to those questions. And maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe the point of the poem is not to regret or wonder about the road not taken but to be grateful for the road that we did take.
To be grateful for the experiences we have had, the people we have met, the lessons we have learned. To be grateful for the person we have become. To be grateful for the life we have lived. For the journey that we are on.
That’s what I am trying to do every day.
I try to be thankful for the road I have followed. And to feel a sense of curiosity and adventure about what lies ahead on this trek.
Surely that can make – that has made – all the difference.