When the great American poet, Robert Frost died I was not out of grade school. While his work went over the heads of most my age when it was brought to our attention at the time of his death, the work touched me. The questioning manner of a good deal of Mr. Frost’s work suited me then during a troubled childhood. Even though his realistic depictions of rural living were about country life in New England the words also seemed a perfect fit for my growing up in the rural south. I adopted him as my “favorite” poet for most of my school years. His work was a good companion during my brooding teen years.
The Frost poem that wrote itself on my psyche most and has never left was “The Road Not Taken”. I resolved as a young man to make good choices and choose the best ‘road’ for my life. It’s easy to read Robert Frost’s poem now and slide into thoughts of “I could have/should have” taken several different roads all my way.
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 marked 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.
Recently I found an answer echoing back to my lamenting about what life paths I have taken. William Kite’s sixteen lines came to me as a sort of answer poem to Robert Frost’s original “The Road Not Taken”.
Would things have really been so different?
Would the world really have been so shaken
If when I were a much younger man
I had chosen the road not taken?
Would the days have been any the brighter
Or the nights darker than they are?
Would I still have lived in such obscurity
Or shined brighter than any star?
It does little good to wonder
Of things that might have been
For who, and what I have become
I must live with in the end.
Though life could have been much better
All in all I do not feel forsaken.
I count the blessings that I have
And cry not of the road not taken.
I needed that! It is gratitude for what my living has actually encompassed that matters most and not whether the actual steps, chapters and roads seem now like the ‘best ones’. All of them taken in total “are my life”. Time is wasted by any thought of wishing my past to be different; it can not be rewritten. What is, “IS”.
By counting the blessings in every adventure from the difficult and grievous to the joyful and glad a colorful mosaic of life comes into view: my life. For all it has contained and yet will, I am grateful.
The past cannot be changed,
and we carry our choices with us,
forward, into the unknown.
We can only move on.