One of the few failings of my undergraduate English Literature Course was that the creators of the syllabus interpreted English Literature not as Literature written in English, but as Literature written in England (or Ireland, Scotland and Wales.) To study American Literature written in English, you had to take a separate course in ‘American Studies,’ which I didn’t do. So though I got a wonderful chronological picture of literature in English written in England, Ireland, Scotland or Wales, I got no Hemingway and Scott Fitzgerald. I got no Dickinson, I got no Frost.
In an effort to try and redress this heinous crime against American Literature written in English, and also in an effort to broaden the definition of English Literature to that of any literature written in English, today’s poem is The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost.
Just listen to the opening lines of this 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…
‘Sorry I could not travel both/And be one traveler,’ what a striking way to express a common regret! It immediately made me think of my very (very) limited understanding of quantum physics: that on the quantum level, a particle can travel two different paths and exist in both of the divergent realities. We, as humans (at least as far as we’re aware) can’t do that, so we always have to choose one path or the other. And live with the outcome of that decision. Once again, I find myself at a juncture in the road of life where I must make an irreversible decision.
The Country or the City?
The decision is not ‘to leave or stay in Spain,’ I’ve already taken that one. It’s ‘where to live when we arrive in Slovenia.’ Not that this in itself is irreversible, but its consequences might be. It has to do with where my children will grow up. My eldest son has already changed schools three times, and he’s only 7. I don’t want to keep doing this to him. I want to settle somewhere where he can make good friends and keep them. So do we choose the country or the city? We can live in Ljubljana, the capital, or we can live in the nearby Julian Alps. This would mean a bit of a commute for my husband, but he thinks it’s worth it.
I’ve been having trouble deciding if I’m a country or a city person. I mean, I know deep down I’m a country person, but I love the buzz of the city. When we first arrive, I thought it might be nice to spend some time exploring Ljubljana properly, as I did with Barcelona when we first came there. But we know eventually we want to be in the mountains, and if we move later, my older son will have to change schools again.
Yesterday, we drove up to the Refugio de Juanar, a hidden natural gem tucked away on a mountainside not far from Marbella. I took a walk through the tall pine trees and breathed the heavily scented air. I found a crossroads and I thought about ‘the road not taken.’ ‘The mountains it is,’ I concluded: ‘we go North.’
Of course, this decision isn’t set in stone. But regardless of which path I choose to take, I never want to look back with regret. The final stanza of Frost’s poem runs as follows:
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.
When my first son was born, I remember thinking that whatever happened beforehand to lead me to this point, it had been right, because if I’d chosen another path, I wouldn’t be holding this perfect baby in my arms.
I’d like to think I’ve always taken the road ‘less travelled by’ – choosing always to move on and explore different places when such opportunities arose. I’ve been lucky to have had many such opportunities. But now I’d like to make a decision, make a move and stick with it, for once. Let’s see how that works out…
Of course, if you’re a fan of determinism, you’ll have concluded that every path we think we choose in life is pre-ordained. Which renders this post somewhat futile and redundant, but inevitable nonetheless. Inevitably, then, I hope that you enjoyed it. 😉