Wednesday, April 28, 2010

X for Unknown

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference”
~”The Road Not Taken",1916, by Robert Frost

Readers often see the poem literally, as an expression of individualism. Critics typically view the poem as ironic. Frost himself warned "You have to be careful of that one; it's a tricky poem – very tricky."

Whatever the interpretation of the poem, there are times in your life when you stand at crossroads and need to choose which path to take.
A competitor makes you an offer- a higher salary, a better designation, a similar job profile to your current one. While you are trying to digest that, your boss takes you aside for a chat – would you want to move to a different department, same salary, huge opportunities for professional growth.
After three months of unemployment, you have two offers. Do you take the one that gives you a fat salary and a fancy designation, or the one where you get to do what you really love doing?
You have been going steady with a man for years, but he shows no signs of wanting to settle down. Do you stay with him, or break up and look for something else?
You’ve just got a promotion, when a friend tells you she’s planning to start something on her own- would you join her?

Often, you are so busy plodding along your chosen path, you do not even notice the trails that branch off. Sometimes, you make a conscious decision to stay on your well defined path, and sometimes you stay on because you don’t want to make the choice to pick another one.

There are times when I chose to continue on the path that I was already on, but the choices I really remember are the ones where I chose ‘the path less travelled by’.

Eight years back, I was at the pinnacle of my profession- I was staying only at five-star hotels, and had chauffer driven cars meet me at the airport when I travelled. I cheerfully chucked it all, and took up a job with a non-profit which paid me a fifth of what I was actually earning.
I got back to work within a fortnight of having my first child, but when he was six months old, decided I did not want to have to choose between child and career every day. I became a full-time mom (and discovered writing).
The kids didn’t want me to get back to work, the hubby wasn’t happy with putting the kids in Daycare, but I held firm and got back to work.

And every one of those choices has given me immense personal and professional satisfaction. Had I not made those choices, I would be quite a different person. I am pretty sure I would still be my own best friend, but given a chance, I would not want to go back in time to change the choices I made.

What about you? Have you ever taken ‘the path less travelled by’, or even been tempted by it? Do you regret any of the choices you have made?

X stands for Unknown. Is X your friend?


Carol Kilgore said...

Nice thought-provoking post. Sometimes I think we make a choice intuitively without thinking more about it. Other times, it's a conscious decision. I wouldn't change mine either.

I have an award for you on my blog.

Jaydee Morgan said...

Yes, I'd have to say I've taken that less-traveled road often in my life but never any regrets :)

Stephanie Faris said...

One thing I hate is when you have a job you like and get another offer. Or you get two offers at once. It's much easier when you're miserable and the choice is clear...but those life-changing choices that could lead to major regrets? Hate making those!

Mason Canyon said...

I'm not very good with change. This is a very thought provoking and inspiring post.

Thoughts in Progress


Some serious issues here, It wasmost inspiring and you asked if anyone regretted a decision,
well I have. 3 yrs ago I was living in Spain,
wonderful warn climate, good rented apartment, feeling on top of the world, I came to the UK to visit my children and met a man, having been a widow for 9 yrs I thought perhaps I was given a second chance of happiness, Before the end of that year we had found a place to live,he was kind, charming everything a gentleman should be,
Then he retired, and he changed overnight, he was verbably abussive and violent and for the first time in their lives my children saw brusies on me. I moved out but I do regret moving from Spain,although my son in the UK was diagnosed with cancer whilst I was living here had I been in Spain I could have visited as it only takes 2 hrs by plane. Not a very nice story
but I have bounced back again and take comfort with my poetry writing.


Karen Walker said...

That is one of my favorite poems. Looking back, I have often taken the road less traveled. I have no regrets, although I deeply wish some things hadn't happened as a result. But then, I probably wouldn't be the person I've become, and I'm pretty content with who I am. This is a very inspiring and thoughtful post, Rayna. Thank you.

Michele Emrath said...

oh, tough one. i am my own worst enemy when it comes to choosing what is right for me. i always put my family first. then i consider myself. sounds selfless, right? not necessarily--they have to see me miserable later!

you have given me a lot to think baout!


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've no real regrets. I've played it safe a few times, but those choices also brought me to a better place than if I'd taken a wild hairy risk.

Clarissa Draper said...

How unexciting life would be if we always took the road more often travelled and refused to take risk. I've been taking more risks as a writer and I find that I've grown as a person. Oh, how I've missed your blog.

CD (formerly known as ann)

Elspeth Antonelli said...

I quoted this poem on my blog today as well! I wish I COULD look back without regrets - I think I listened to others a bit too much when I was younger and not so much to myself. There are days when I'm very tired of coming last on the list of priorities - but then I remind myself, I'm the one who put myself there.

Stacy Post said...

I love that poem! :) I gave up a good job to work part time so that I could be home more with my kiddos too. Staying resilient I think is the key for handling the "X". Those forks in the road pop up all the time. Great post!

Lisa said...

That is an amazing poem. I haven't taken the road less traveled enough, sadly. As I get older, I realize that that is the path I'm going to take from now on. :)

Excellent post Rayna!

Melody said...

I did a post in this challenge on this poem too! (in F). I must say... X is not my friend. I am trying to become more comfortable with choices and unknowns. I appreciated your post... I've abandoned working full time for being at home for now too... and I'm not so sure I'll be able to jump back on when I feel it is time to do so. Trying to figure out ways to keep paths and options open here... and at the same time fully embrace the path I am on at the moment. (I do have to say I don't think the poem is about asserting individuality as much as it is about life choices in general, regardless of what they may be!)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

In the grand scheme of things, I am happy with the paths I've choosen!

slommler said...

I have chosen the path less traveled and many thought I was crazy. But I have received the richest blessings in my life because of it.
Wonderful post!

Patricia Stoltey said...

I've chosen the path less traveled many times, and I'm so glad I did. Even the mistakes turned out well in the end.

Marjorie said...

I think a lot of people dont understand my life choices. I tend to think I have not always taken the path that was best for me. I can't bring myself to regret my choices, because I learned from them. I'm still learning and taking paths. Hooray for the unknown!

Jemi Fraser said...

I like change, I like challenges and I love that poem. I have taken the road less traveled more than once. It's a lot of fun!

Ellie said...

Great poem; This was read at my high school graduation! I tend to the road less traveled, I don't regret it, but sometimes I just wonder, what life would be like, then I realize it wasn't
meant to be. I look forward to taking another path, less traveled! Inspiring post~

Maryann Miller said...

I have followed tangents and discovered new things about myself with each new path. I have few regrets over any of it.

Carol from Under the Tiki Hut introduced me to your blog and I'm glad she did.

Anonymous said...

Although we all hate change, it is so necessary!

Lovely thought-provoking post!

Sorcerer said...

ITs better to take life head-on and enjoy the chaos.

great writeup

dipali said...

The road less travelled has been the one I've often opted for, and with no regrets so far:)

Tina Laurel Lee said...

I love that take on X! So glad you are satisfied with your path! I believe wholeheartedly in taking the hard one, if it is the right one and that is usually the one less traveled.

Paul C said...

Your choice of service is commendable, and illustrates the two roads analogy so well. Sometimes we need to balance our goals to include those values which provide opportunity to help others and enrich the community. Currently I am helping a new immigrant family get started in their new country.

Watery Tart said...

I've done a little of both. Responsibility is a cruel master, and sometimes I just haven't had the luxery to take a chance I would have liked, but the twists that really have made a difference have often been that--quitting advertising and slinging burgers so I could go to grad school was the real biggie. I am compromising right now... I want to take the writing path, but I can't commit completely until the other wage-earner in my family is proficient at something insurance-worthy...

Rayna M. Iyer said...

@ Carol - when you live a life without regreting the choices you made, that is a good life, I think.

@ Jaydee - you have lived a good life!!

@ Stephanie - I have been lucky- that never happened to me. But my husband once got two offers after five months of unemployment, and making the choice was so difficult. The only thing I told him was that no matter which choice he made, six months later he would wish he had taken the other, and he should keep that in mind before choosing.

@ Mason - most people are not. Me? I thrive on change!

@ Yvonne - thank you so much for sharing your choices. That must have been a really tough one.But the good thing is that you could move beyond it- so many don't.

@ Karen - thank you. You are an inspiration to anyone, because of how you have dealt with things, and come out stronger for it.

@ Michele - do I know what you mean! I have now started putting myself first, because only if I put myself first am I a better person for my family to have around. Does that sould familiar?

@ Alex - it is about choosing what is best for you, and not regreting those choices. If a silly risk is going to leave you fuming, what is the point?

@ Clarissa - that sort of describes me!

@ Elspeth - I loved how me both quoted the same poem, in such different contexts! And I guess it is about choices, and living with your choices., To me, your life seems so much more exciting than mine ever was.

@ Stacy - what is the point of having kids if you are not going to give them time? I was a full time mom, but went back to work full time, when I realised I was gettign frustrated and was taking that frustration out on the kids

@ Lisa - it is more fun, actually.

@ Melody - I must look for your post. And I too think it is about life choices.

@ Diane - you are a lucky one

@ Sue Ann- quite. The reward of the path is the journey itself.

@ Patricia - sometimes the mistakes are what really turns out best.

@ Marjorie - as long as you don't regret the choices you made, life is good

@ Jemi - unless there are challenges,I am not happy either.

@ Ellie - it is a perfect poem for a graduation address, isn't it? Even if we don't quite understand it then as much as we do many years later.

@ Maryann - it is fun, isn't it?

@ Fiona - it is, isn't it?

@ Sorcerer - it is, isn't it?

@ Dipali - that is hte spirit in which the road should be travelled,isn't it?

@ Tina - it is a much better path, isn't it?

@ Paul - what you are doing is really awesome. If you can help someone,there is nothing better that you can do with your time.

@ Tami - yes, you have limited choices, unfortunately. How much better it would be if you had teh luxury to write full time.


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