The Road Not Taken

the road not taken

Think back to your elementary school days, kindergarten to grade 6 or 8, depending on where you went to school.

There might be that one teacher who made a lasting impact on your life, or perhaps one subject that you grasped onto and learned all you could. Today, 20, 30 or 40 years later, you still remember.

For me, that was my Grade 8 teacher, Mr. Oke who taught us the poem, “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost, slowly over the course of the year.

Like most other 13-year-old kids, I couldn’t see how learning this poem would be relevant to my life at the time, or in the future, but being the good kid that I was, I did what was required.

Week after week, we would learn a new line or two of this poem and recite it together in class. Just a few minutes each week.

Mr. Oke was convinced this was a good use of our time and even went as far as to say that we might not remember ANYTHING he said that year, but he guaranteed us that we would remember this poem.

Mr. Oke was right.

I don’t remember the math or science, the social studies or English.

I do however remember the poem that I was so convinced would have no use for me in later life. Word for word, I can still recite it.

For those who may not know it, here it is.  Powerful, profound words:

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.

By: Robert Frost

It’s interesting how poetry and music can have such a lasting impact on our lives and memories, reaching us at critical times and then returning to memory, later on, to comfort us, give us reason to pause, be thankful or just remember.

For me, this poem has come to memory on many occasions when faced with a decision.

I chuckle because I have even verbalized out loud the phrase “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both” when faced with 2 choices.

How many times can you look back on your life and see this poem play out, whether it was in school, in your career, in your business or in your personal relationships?

Something this poem has taught me in one way or another is to not look back in regret at what “might” have happened if I had gone another way.

What if I went to University instead of College?
What if I didn’t buy a small grocery store…and basically go broke?
What if I moved into another house we had looked at?

What if we didn’t move to London?

The list of “what ifs” could be endless.

I don’t like the thought of living life in regret in any part of my life. It can be an unfruitful activity in many cases.

Sure, we regret actions we did or words we said, especially when it involved others getting hurt. That’s normal and justified.

But when it comes to making a decision on what to do or where to go next, there’s no sense reliving it – “what if I had made the other choice?”

Here’s the thing; You made the decision, and here you are. You are living with the consequences of those decisions. Some good, some bad and some downright challenging.

You are not Marty McFly from “Back to the Future.” There is no time machine – no DeLorean to take you back to October 1985, 1955 or 2015. You’re here, you have today and by God’s grace, you have a future ahead.

What do you gain by beating yourself up, reliving those decisions in the form of regret? All that will do is cripple you from moving forward. You will live in fear, or worse, inaction.

Inaction is dangerous because…well…you just do nothing. Regret will prevent you from dealing with what’s right in front of you.

We all know that being fixated on the rear-view mirror when we’re driving, while not paying more attention to what’s ahead is sure to cause a serious accident.

Sorry for leaving you with something so heavy to ponder, but maybe it will help just one person, and if nothing else, it’s a great reminder for myself!

It can be helpful for all of us to think through some of these deeper issues in our own lives, look to scripture for help, trust God and His plan, and move on.

3 thoughts on “The Road Not Taken”

  1. You introduced me to this poem. It’s very good. I saw it recently at school when I was supply teaching. It’s timeless.

    1. It’s such a good one. I’m just thrilled I can remember something from elementary school from an educational standpoint! LOL

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