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.
I’ve loved Robert Frost’s poetry since I was a girl. While this poem, especially the last stanza, has often been taken with more seriousness than the author intended, it is still a truthful statement that it is very difficult to distinguish between the options at the head of the trail, that we rarely have another day to come back and choose the second path, and that taking a trail less traveled can make a world of difference in how life plays out.
Many of you have chosen the path that wanted wear. There was a promise of excitement in the grassy lane, a chance to do things a bit differently. Yet any choice has its price and this one is no exception.
This kind of path has more grass because there are fewer people on it. I knew that intellectually when I chose it, but I don’t think I was really prepared at how few people actually walked that way. Even though I am a pretty extreme introvert, I sometimes found the howling isolation hard to take. Even more difficult was watching the loneliness of my children. My son did not find any, ANY, kindred spirits until he went to college. My daughter had several friends in high school, one very special friend living in another state, but nobody at all who understood the route she was taking.
The solitude forged a work ethic that has stood both kids in good stead as they survived incredibly tough degree programs. It created an independence that didn’t waver through the assaults on their faith and family ties. It forced the need to look deep within rather than depending on outsiders for help or validation.
Despite the agony, I’m glad we chanced upon a different way. We are bruised and battered to be sure. There are still very few people who understand the choices we made. But there has been a blossoming out of the pain as I can turn around to encourage those who are still on the path behind us. I am privileged to hold distraught moms close and tell them that they will survive. Their kids will survive. And God will produce something beautiful from their sacrifice.
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