I Took The One Less Traveled By
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;
You’ve probably read this famous Robert Frost poem in some high school or college English lit class. It has always been my favorite. The entire concept sweeps me away every time: a lone traveler ultimately choosing where his life will go next. It’s almost romantic. In my mind’s eye, I’ve always seen my life as being as large and bold as fresh ink on a crisp, white sheet of paper. Oh, how I was going to make such a difference with my work. I was never discouraged about my future, no matter what was happening in the present.
True to the traveler in the poem, the paths I chose turned out to be riddled with hazards that injured, maimed, and even took many away from me. I wasn’t a great writer, but I was an excellent dreamer with larger-than-life ideas. I had my youth and I always saw myself as strong and determined. I just needed to keep believing in myself.
I soon found out that life doesn’t obey just because we say “pretty please”. With each passing year, the life that I had once envisioned became fuzzier and more distant. Before I knew it, I could barely think about my dreams without it feeling like a punch to the gut. By the time I had kids, my needs and fantasy life became a distant second. I am happy that at least I got the motherhood-part right - my boys make it all worth it.
And then it all went to hell. My sister took her life in December of 1999. I felt I understood why, but my heart was lost. I found myself standing off of the beaten path under a cloud of pure darkness. If I tried to feel my way out, the thorns would leave me bloodied and crippled - I felt alone and defeated. The windows were open, but I no longer saw light. I felt nothing but coldness, I had essentially died along with my sister. I was broken.
Why the poem? It isn’t for inspiration. In fact, when I look at it now, I have to swallow the bile that collects in the back of my throat, driven by memories of what went wrong. So much was misplaced.
I couldn’t sleep, I wasn’t thinking right, I was only but a shell of who I once was. One day, I stood my boys on the back of the couch and painted their outlines on the wall, from largest to the smallest. It wasn’t art, rather the rambling hand of a woman going insane. Written above the three stick figures were the first five lines of Robert Frost’s poem, The Road Not Taken. His words were painted like graffiti above the shadow of three boys that desperately needed their mom.
How does it end? Surprisingly, my story ends eerily similar to the way Mr. Frost ended this iconic masterpiece. I did win, but in a different way than I had ever imagined. It wasn’t pretty, but I won, and that is what I must remember. I made it through, and so can you.
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.
I hope everyone has a great day! Let’s talk again tomorrow, I’ll bring the coffee. -R.