It’s a little clichéd, but the image resonates with my soul.
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.
A couple of years ago, I visited Vermont and walked in the ‘yellow wood’ in Robert Frost country. Experiencing this landscape was a spiritual experience for me as I walked in places I had dreamed when reading this poem over many years.
I took this photo as a reminder of one particular moment. I have it on my desktop screensaver as a visual reminder of how each day is a series of choices and intentions and that each choice or intention can influence the direction of my life.
My house backs onto a national park. We walk through the back gate right into it as we take our evening walk with our golden retriever. Crisscrossing this piece of bushland are many trails and firebreaks. We’ve lived here for seven months now and we still get lost sometimes as we explore a new trail.
The outward-bound trails wind downhill so, if we get lost, we know that all we have to do is head uphill and we will eventually find our way home.
Sometimes I wear my Garmin watch, which has a GPS tracker. It measures time, calories, and distance and, when uploaded on my laptop, a map with my path comes up. Sometimes the map shows a circular route.
The goals are still achieved no matter what the picture looks like. I’ve exercised, the dog has exercised, my husband and I have talked as we walked. Sometimes we talk to God about stuff as our golden joyfully darts from smell to smell.
At this time of year we like to set our path for the year and hope that our path will be straight.
However, life sometimes isn’t that predictable. Things happen. We change our minds. Opportunities emerge that we never imagined. If we had a bird’s eye view of our lives over a year, rarely would they be smooth and orderly.
However, if we set our intentions and keep heading in the direction of our goals, even allowing ourselves to explore new trails along the way, we will look back and see that we have arrived at the destination we were supposed to and perhaps had a few fun adventures along the way.
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.
Henry David Thoreau
Sometimes we make plans, work hard, focus and all those things, but forget to enjoy being on the path in the present. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring. We only have today. Our purpose in life has more meaning than ticking things off a list.
Gretchen Rubin put it like this in her book, The Happiness Project: ‘ “Go off the Path” was meant to push me to encounter the unexpected thoughts, unfamiliar scenes, new people, and unconventional juxtapositions that are the key sources of creative energy-and happiness. Instead of always worrying about being efficient, I wanted to spend time on exploration, experimentation, digression and failed attempts that didn’t always look productive.’
As I look ahead to 2014, I hope I get off the path a little bit and find adventure.