… Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
~ Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken”
When I thought of this poem, and the choices we make in life, I often thought of it literally: did I take the road less traveled when I move to a new city, or applied for a job, or learned a new skill? How about when I met new people and tried to understand their point of view? Should I make selections that others likely would not make? Does one see more or experience more on the backroads of life and not the highways? Does one need to make hard decisions to march away from the crowds to be true to one’s self? to reach new levels of understanding?
And then, with age, came a simple wisdom. As light and fresh as the first snowflake brushing against my face. I realized that the road less traveled by is a matter of perception, not location. If you are in a packed room, but your mind is not trapped there … you are on the divergent path as surely as if you were hacking your way through the overgrown jungle, discovering what only you could see and touch firsthand.
The perception of where you are, and where you want to be, is its own unique path. Or as a mentor once told me, “no matter what, the only thing you always have control over is your attitude.” So the same staircase can be a “path less traveled” for one person and less so for another — if what they each think and feel is perceived differently. One staircase may take you away from pain, or toward love, or into the arms of adventure. It can be sure steps toward your goals, or a place to hide from your deepest thoughts. The same steps may represent bravery and risk, or may be the safe choice. It is not the stairway that creates the path less traveled, it is the attitude and perception of the person walking up, or down, or sideways. It is whether you see yourself moving forward, backward, or pausing before the first big step.
And so we have,
– a snow globe with a nod to M.C. Escher,
and a knowing smile to Robert Frost.
It’s all a matter of perception.