The Road Taken
Recently, One of my writing groups decided to study Robert Frost's poem "The Road Not Taken." Often read at graduation ceremonies and other coming of age events, this poem is considered by scholars to be the most misunderstood poem in America. The poem, you see, is not a commentary on taking the harder road, but a joke.
Frost had a friend he would hike with and said friend would stand at a fork in the road and ponder the best path to take. And ponder.... and ponder. Frost wrote the poem, sent it to his friend, and the friend thought it was brilliant. It took six letters and a lot of subtle hints for Frost's friend to get the joke. So, don't feel bad if you misinterpreted the poem. Nearly everyone does. I did, too. But now that I understand it, it appears obvious.
The poem itself famously ends with the verse:
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.
And yet, this hasn't even happened yet. This is the present narrator telling his audience he WILL say this. But, as we see in the beginning of the poem, the roads aren't different at all:
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 thing is, he can't make up his mind, but he knows the road he takes will make all the difference, for it has it's own bumps and curves along the way. He will trick himself into believing he made the right choice. We all do that. Even when things didn't turn out as planned-- we say "It was really better this way because..." and then we go on to project some horrible scenario where what happened was actually beneficial to our future.
But as the poem suggests ("...sorry I could not travel both") we can't ever know which way is the better way. We can only hope, and guess, and then convince ourselves it was the right way. But neither can we stand at a crossroads and mull over the decision forever. We must get on with it and continue to walk our chosen path. And so it is with this blog.
When I started this blog, I thought I would write about writing and art in general-- our responsibilities as creators, inspirations and observations, helping boost the signal of artists I enjoy and who have something to say. But in talking with other bloggers, I was persuaded to write everyday about my life because my story was interesting and I could uplift people with my tenacity. And while that may be true, I found I just couldn't do it. I began to dread writing about my life. It wasn't the writing I wanted to do. It was neither academic nor was it creative. And honestly, it was painful. I took a full week trying to write about the complicated grief I have as a widow and in the end I shelved it because I wasn't going to put myself through crying over my computer one more time.
That's not to say there aren't stories I like sharing, usually about my childhood growing up wild in a tiny town, but it just can't be an everyday thing. So, I have decided to back track. To go back to what I wanted to do and write about writing. Say things I think need to be said. Help people who struggle with the creative blocks and the moral toll of not keeping up with the housework when you're on fire. This is where my passion is. I don't need a thousand subscribers. I need ten subscribers that read the blog and comment. I want someone to say "That really helped me" or "But what about this scenario?" I am aching for community in a hermetic digital age and vomiting my life like a pale form of entertainment is not serving me. I doubt it's serving anyone.
And like Frost's poem, once I decided to take this route, I couldn't turn back. It just seemed the better option. My mind was made and I started walking again. I hope you'll stay with me through this change and let me know what you think. Walk with me down this road for a stretch and we can keep each other company.