The road less travelled

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.
                                               Robert Frost

It’s ironic that these lines from Frost’s poem The Road Not Taken have been so often used as a mantra for non-conformity.  ‘Be different,’ we’re told, ‘Strike out on your own.  Take the path few have trod before’ – and we’re told it in words many have used before to the same end!

Even more ironic is the fact that this advice actually runs counter to the sense of the poem.  The complete last stanza reads:

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.

Far from being confident that the road less travelled will always lead to the more exciting adventure, Frost chooses his road in the expectation of looking back and wishing he had tried the other path.

Sometimes the experience of others is a useful and wise guide for us. It is true that new discoveries are made by those who leave the beaten track and stride boldly into the unknown, but I think our culture often places too strong an emphasis on this at the expense of learning from the wisdom of those who have gone before.

Jesus exhorts us to:

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
                                                  Matthew 7:13-14

Our culture thinks that this is one piece of advice they can embrace wholeheartedly, little realising that in going their own way, choosing their own path and taking the road less travelled, they are actually choosing the wide gate and broad road. 

Harder and more counter-cultural by far is the decision to obey your parents, submit to authority and learn from the experience of others.

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