In looking back at my life a poem by Robert Frost popped into my head, “The Road Not Taken”. I am by no means a literature buff or can even recite poems. In fact, I thought the name of the poem was “The Road Less Traveled”. Robert Frost is probably rolling over in his grave right now.
I first read this poem in high school and I guess it resonated with me. They say that the great writers talk to your soul, well I guess this one did. (Apologies to my English teacher, I don’t remember anything else.)
The Road Not Taken – Robert Frost
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.
Don’t you think that some of the great people in the world took this less traveled path? You hear people say, “She is a trend setter.” We tend to flock towards these people who are agents of change. We want them to show us the way. It takes a lot of courage to be this kind of person. You are always making the way for others to follow, but you don’t know as you head down this road where it will end. No footsteps to tread in, no map, and no previous experiences to learn from. Some of the people I admire are: Harriet Tubman’s escape from slavery and then efforts to free others; Susan B. Anthony in her fight for women’s rights and sufferage; Mohandas Ghandi in his nonviolent approach to civil disobedience that freed India and set an example for the world; Martin Luther King a human rights icon.
There are so many people in this world that have achieved greatness by taking the road less traveled. Society promotes that we follow the rules, listen to our elders, fit in with a group, or just be a follower. Too many times, modern education grades us on how well we follow directions. Your scores are compared with those ahead of you. I think parents even gauge their children’s successes based on their own or those of their siblings. Shouldn’t we be teaching them to find their own strengths. Guide them to use those strengths to accomplish anything they want. Encourage them to think for themselves and to ask “why?”
I think I was born with some sort of quirk that made me buck the system, defy the rules, and set my own path. I can remember my mother once saying, “You seem to always run into the doors before opening them.” For some reason, I have to know the motivation behind rules that have set. If I agree with the motivations, I can follow the rule. If not, I set my own path. I have this innate ability to want to do things differently than they were done before.
In my parenting, I am trying to encourage my child to have this courage to expand her horizons, take risks, and be courageous. Due to her condition, having different ways to accomplish the same end goal is going to be key. Current teaching methods might cause her frustration and inability to move forward. My role will be to come up with ways to use her strengths to overcome her weaknesses. Who knows what her future holds? I hope she is an agent of change and always challenges herself to take the road less traveled.
I am telling you this, not because I am a leader or role model by any means. My hopes are that it will encourage you to take that first step down your road less traveled. It won’t be easy. There are always bumps in the road, but with each step you will become more and more able to circumvent and handle those bumps.
“When you develop yourself to the point where your belief in yourself is so strong that you know you can accomplish anything you put your mind to, your future will be unlimited.” – Brian Tracy
What challenges do you face? Who do you admire as an agent of change? Do you have an experience with taking the road less traveled?