“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?