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.
– The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost (1916)
I love poetry. I think poetry has always had a healing quality for me. There is a beauty in taking something complicated; namely our human experience, then distilling an essence of that experience into a few short stanzas. This poem by Robert Frost has long been a favourite.
The way I read it, the voice of the traveller is stepping out of their comfort zone. The traveller is making choices (like we all must in life) they experience doubt and uncertainty, they tell themselves that they will come back to this point again and walk the other path (even though they know deep down that they won’t). For me, this poem is about bravery, it’s a humble bravery…it’s putting one foot in front of the other. It’s making a choice with the information you have, with the tools and experience you have. Bravery is sometimes accepting that you are at a fork in your own life; that a path must be taken and that it will lead you away from the one you decide against today.
I find this poem to be so kind in it’s boldness. Our world is a loud one; there are expectations aplenty to contend with. Yet I find the simplicity of this poem so soothing and grounding.
When we are healing it often feels as if we are walking a road less traveled. We can feel alone or isolated. We can doubt that we have made the right choice when we came across a fork in our path. However, I find such comfort in the line: ‘ Yet knowing how way leads onto way,’ there will be forks to explore, more choices to make. There will be pauses, rest and mountain views.
I suppose this blog post is a simple reminder that you’re doing the best with what you have. Taking the path that is open to you right here and now. You are brave to think about your mental health, you are courageous to learn about yourself and your own uniqueness.