The other day, I read The Road Not Taken and I cried. How many times have I heard those last three lines and not been stirred? But seeing it through the lens of my life changed everything.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The other day, I read The Road Not Taken and I cried. How many times have I heard those last three lines and not been stirred? I have always liked the poem, but I only appreciated it intellectually. I understood it and agreed with the sentiment. That’s like standing in front of a painting and measuring the brushstrokes for accuracy. Or describing how you can dance rather than demonstrating. It’s hardly the point.
But isn’t that how things are measured today? Education is vocational. Exercise is for fitness. Food must be fast and convenient. Time is money and there’s never enough of either. And art...well, that’s far down the list of importance and therefore has no measure. And this is where my trouble started.
I read The Road Not Taken and I cried because, for a time, I took the road more traveled. Because I spent years trying to be practical with my career, to do what was expected of me, to care about financial incentives, medical benefits, job security, pension plans, hedged bets and tidy, hedged houses. And when I freed myself from a life that wasn’t for me, I forgot to leave the measures behind.
I kept looking for signposts and speed limits, traffic lights and pavement, often wondering why success was eluding me. I measured my progress with metrics from a path I was no longer on. I forgot that I chose the brush and brambles. I tromped through high grass, stumbled on uneven ground, faced fear, and got lost. It has tested my character, my beliefs, and my sanity. It has caused me to examine every facet of my mind and heart and soul. And when I judged myself or allowed others to judge me by measures that weren’t of my making, I suffered.
I read The Road Not Taken and I cried because I remembered that I chose my path, and I am proud of my path. I have discovered that who I am is more important than where I am. My eyes, heart, and conscience are clear. I took the road less traveled by, and I now measure success with creativity, reverence and joy, self-expression and satisfaction, passion and purpose, love and vitality. And that has made all the difference.
A Run In My Stocking: Lessons of a Recovering Perfectionist www.aruninmystocking.com