Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Fork in the Road... Or Is It?

Ok so I'm gonna go off on a bit of a tangent here... hopefully I can translate my thoughts into words well enough to make my point.

For those of you who don't know me (I have a feeling there's very few people who read this that don't already know me) I will be leaving California to go to grad school in September. While I'm really excited about this I'm also slightly terrified. The thought of living 1500 miles away from my family and friends and all that I hold dear is something I can only handle if I think about it in small doses. Unfortunately, think about it I must, for that is who I am. This has made me start thinking about paths. I found my self contemplating two possible paths. One path was me staying in California and moving in with one of my best friends and working in a bakery, the second path was of course grad school and moving to Seattle. I felt as though I was standing at a fork in the road and "as way leads on to way" that made me think of Robert Frosts iconic poem.

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.

Most people believe this poem is about choosing the path of non conformity or the path less traveled. They would be wrong... mostly because they only pay attention to the last verse. In actuality Robert Frost is saying that both paths were the same, " 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." The last verse actually refers to a time in the future when he will tell others the story of his life and make it seem like he chose the path that was least traveled.

This whole process got me thinking about paths themselves. The interesting thing about paths is that they don't exist until someone makes them. Therefore it is impossible to stand at a fork of two life paths... they haven't been made yet. You may think that the path is clearly laid out in front of you, all you have to do is pick. In actuality you have to cut the path itself. A path only exists in your past and only then is it possible to look back and see it clearly.

So how do we cut that path? Before the days of GPS, trailblazers used the cues of nature to find their way. The position of the sun as it crossed the sky, the placement of the stars, the sound of running water. They found their way through obstacles using the only things they knew for certain. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west, polaris would take them north and the river would quench their thirst and provide vegetation. As we grow and evolve we begin to know things with certainty. We learn our strengths and weaknesses, we know that family and friends will catch us when we fall, we learn to savor every moment and above all we know the importance of continuously evolving. If we hold on to what we can count on we become capable of navigating the unknown.

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