On Roads and Diverging Paths

I was browsing through an online comic blog (http://zenpencils.com), and found this cartoon about roads and life. The original writer of the poem was Robert Frost. It’s tells the story of a man who, while travelling in the woods, came across two roads: one is a paved and usually trodden path to college, job, marriage, and old age. The other is “grassy and wanted wear”. It leads to adventure, falling in love, finding a meager means to live by, and finally settling in at old age. The poem ends with this:

“Somewhere ages and ages hence

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –

I took the road less traveled by

… and that has made all the difference”

After reading this, some would probably say, “Meh! Not another one of those road less traveled stuff! To be honest, that sounds great and all, but I have responsibilities and I want security. I can’t risk everything for some uncertain future.” People who say this have a point.

There’s also those who’d stop and think, “You know, maybe adventure and uncertainty isn’t such a bad thing… after all isn’t that what life is all about? Besides, a routine and factory-like life is not the same as truly being alive!” People who say this have a point too.

But I think what the author is trying to get at is different from the two above. At the end of the poem, both paths seem to converge as the traveler approached old age… soon he will die and take all of his experiences with him. No matter what his choices had been, he will look back on what has been his life. Whatever he chose, he would have experienced moments of anguish, defeat, happiness, and victory. Life is not just about one thing, or one choice. It’s the cumulative value of all the things he did, all the decisions he made. Had he chosen the more secure road, he probably wouldn’t have experienced a lot of heart racing adventures. Had he chosen the road less traveled, who knows how his life might have turned out. He could’ve ended up a homeless beggar. And what about the people he met along the way? The children he would have had? The friendships he fostered?

At the end of the day, we should remember that JUST BEING ALIVE in this complex and baffling world is a privilege. Our choices may not always be right, but we have lived… no matter how, we still lived.




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