As a student, decades ago, in a fourth grade class, I sought to analyze this poem’s meaning. Even today, it still has merit in my life because it reflects the image of choices and opportunities in life.
We make choices every day. Our choices affect not only ourselves but others. In the poem, “The Road Not Taken,” Robert Frost expresses human emotions and the dilemma of this character.
As travelers in this journey of life, we face choices and dilemmas. Our dilemmas and choices are part of our personal circumstances and experiences. My experiences may differ from yours; however, in choosing between two or more pathways, the paths we choose will affect others. Hopefully, we will choose pathways that improve our circumstances as a society and individuals. While we know that not all will do so, we must consider our choices as did Robert Frost’s character.
At first glance, in this poem, we may view the traveler’s choice as independent. A closer look of his thoughts, in the process, reflects that his dilemma is based on his knowledge and experiences about pathways – choices in life.
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.
His character chose a path that looked greener and less traveled. It is unclear as to why he chose that path, but he did. Perhaps he wanted to be different and follow the minority; perhaps, he thought the other pathway, because it looked more traveled and worn, would deprive him of more. Whatever the reason, he examined a present circumstance, and moved forward in his future. Based on some experiences and knowledge about pathways, he said that the paths equally lay before him.
Why an equal path? It is one or another. He weighed in, knowing that decisions have consequences.
He understood that rebounding from a wrong decision may cost him more than he wish. After weighing his choices, he made a decision – he took the one less traveled and said it has made all the difference. Based on his current circumstances, experiences, and knowledge at hand, for that moment in time, no movement, he knew, would not yield him opportunities.
Sometimes, we need help in processing. From reliable resources, we can endure and embark upon the best decisions and even learn from the worst decisions. At any rate, the choice of not choosing was ours to make. To not be impeded by fear, is still good. The character made a decision to go forth into his future for whatever lies ahead. Some would say that he took a walk, a leap, of faith.
Anxiety in Decision-making
We do not discount the anxiety that must have accompanied this character. Yes, there is a level of anxiety that we may experience in decision-making. Decision-making and a certain amount of stress is expected; yet, we are not to be anxious. How can that be? We find a safe space to deal with our anxious moments. For me, the 23rd Psalm is a source that I reflect upon quite often in my decision-making. Each of us have to find refuge in decision-making so that we are not overtaken by fear. When the level of anxiety impairs you, seek help. I read a great article from Change Therapy called Panic Attack – Change Therapy Know when your level of anxiety impairs.
Safe Space In This Journey
September 22, 2021
My prayer group provides me a safe space. Before sunrise and that first cup of coffee, I had literally helped my Mom change clothes twice. My husband also has an out-patient procedure today. Of course, in COVID, special arrangements had to be made; I will not be able to accompany him. A level of anxiety was natural, but I was determined to get the “refreshing” that I needed. I desired to move forward into this safe space, in spite of. After a couple of phone connection issues, I finally got through on the conference line. The choice had been mine to make: to stop trying because of the previous issues or current issues. Well, I made the decision to keep trying. Before the end of prayer session, I felt relief. Those same issues of taking care of Mom and making sure that my husband was ready for his ordeal, still were there; but, I, had some relief. I do not know what the journey will be today, however, I know who is journeying with me today.