Thursday, January 27, 2011

Burntcore Week 36: The Road Not Taken


Picture 1

Picture 2

Burntcore's Choice: Picture 1

The Road Not Taken

I walked along the street, caught up in my thoughts and emotions as I tried to process what was going on. The opportunities were incredible. I was extremely lucky to even have these options to pick from. Some would call me selfish for being so indecisive, but how do you decide? When both seem so equally matched, what tips the scales?

If I were to just pick one, what if I picked wrong? What if I made the wrong choice? Was there such a thing as a wrong choice? Was there a right one?

My head started to hurt as I over-analyzed everything.

Frustrated, I sat down on a park bench near a stone sculpture with a small waterfall in it. I had walked past this city street countless times in my life and never really paid attention to it. It was quite pretty. There was stone and tile done in three different levels, built into the side of the hill. On top was a phrase inscribed in the stone. This again was something I had looked over in my daily rush to go to whatever thing was more important than looking around and slowing down.


I recognized the phrase from Hamlet, a play that I had read and reread many times for school. Such a simple phrase but wrought with so much meaning.

What did it mean to be true to myself? Should I follow my parents’ desires for the direction my life should go next or should I blaze my own trail? Was I strong enough? Would my parents be disappointed if I chose the other option? They said all they wanted was for me to be happy. Which of these would make me happy? Would one only provide a momentary happiness while the other provided lifelong fulfillment?

I know he wanted to help me make this decision, but this was something that I needed to make on my own.

The direction I knew my parents wanted me to take was safe and known. It would be comfortable and easy. I wouldn’t have to worry about anything. Did I want safe?

The other choice? It was fraught with the unknown, with the scary, with the uneasy, and doubt.

At first glance, it seemed like an easy decision: go with the comfortable and easy! But wait, would I not stagnate in such a place? Would my heart and my dreams be stifled in a place where there was nothing to spur me on to improve?

I looked at the phrase in the sculpture again.


In that moment, it felt like Polonius was speaking directly to me. In my mind, I saw the doomed counselor standing before me, his face earnest and forthright as he now counseled me in my dilemma.

”This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell, my blessing season this in thee!” 1

It was like Polonius had brought forth the sun to my face and cleared the confusion of my mind. The indecision was gone. I felt silly now, thinking so much into this like there was really a decision to be made when the answer was now glaringly obvious.

My heart called for the one place where I knew I could grow and learn and expand, where I may not always know what was going to happen the next day, but I could guarantee that it was my choice. Not every day would be good or easy, but I would exist in each and every day. I would not coast on what I knew or experienced already. I would try new things, eat new foods, and listen to new music. Each day that I didn’t try something new would be a wasted day. I would make the most of each and every experience, both good and bad. There may be easy days ahead, but there would be hard days.... those days I would grow the most.

I stood up, full of renewed resolve, and started walking back towards home. This time, I took the time to look around and enjoy the life around me. I even took a different way home than I normally did. It felt like the first step in accepting my decision for my future.

As I turned a corner on the street, I happened to look in the window of a store as I passed. It was a small, independent bookstore, yet again another example of something I never noticed. In the window was a selection of poetry books, the first one I laid eyes on was a compilation of Robert Frost poems. I smiled as I continued on my journey, the infamous words of Robert Frost hovering to the surface of my mind as my life took a path as he did, to the road less traveled.

“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.” 2

I laughed as I walked, feeling lighter and happier than I had in a long time.

The one less traveled by, indeed. Well said, Mr. Frost.

1 – Shakespeare - Hamlet – Hamlet Act 1, scene 3 - Polonios to Laertes

2 – Robert Frost – Mountain Interval – “The Road Not Taken”