The Road Not Taken – By Robert Frost
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 to self-dependency can be rife with struggles. Successes, failures, questions about our purpose in life and most importantly struggles with self-motivation. Finding ways to drive ourselves forward seems to be the greatest struggle of them all, including questions like, “Who should I marry?” or, “What should I eat today?” Those last two questions may be connected…picking a companion who can cook is always a plus!! Successes can be good, but not always what we want, especially if we didn’t enjoy what we did. Failures can be equally as guiding, but again, not really determine our destiny.
So what is our destiny? How do we determine what we are destined to do? How do we engage ourselves in good works? The world in our day is full of options and advice, far greater with the power of the internet and prosperity, giving people time to consider these deeper facts. No longer are we as earthlings bound to struggle for daily food: our culture and technology have provided these needs, provided we have money to buy it. There is also no shortage of selection: the options are vast and broad, allowing us our taste of fruits and vegetables, snacks, meals, cooking materials, etc. All these blessings are available because our society works together to provide them, with individuals each doing one part of the production, leading to production perfection!
The experience of working in this production line has purpose, and provides for a good cause. In this way, the culture and nation of our day can move forward, providing jobs for people to work so they can buy the food they need. This is a noble cause for anyone who is looking for a job to sustain themselves. It engages them with their community, fulfilling personal needs of employment and sustenance.
It is easy, however, to focus on this step in our lives as the final defining step towards personal happiness. Within the methodology of the system and the tasks themselves, we are encouraged to stay in that safe income place; making a little bit of money and not really going anywhere. The work itself is designed to keep us there while retaining our continued devotion. This system itself is merely that: a system. It has no personal malice or benevolence in consideration of the workers who participate in its process. Regardless, it is important to consider and ask the question: Is this really what I want out of life?
Joy is a dream to many people. We certainly are no strangers to pleasure, but joy is something more than that. Pleasure is intricately connected to biological stimuli: physical stimulation, entertainment, victory, success. Joy is deeper than that. It is finding pleasure in a deeper purpose. We all seek for meaning in our lives, and when we find a meaning that resonates with our souls, we begin to discover something far greater than just ourselves.
We look around us and see a world of tangible people and things. Meaning goes beyond what we see, and reveals the purpose of our actions. For example, I never knew my great great-grandfather, but if he had not married my great great-grandmother I would not be here. This line of meaning can go back exponentially to Adam and Eve, revealing a lineage thousands of years old, and one of which I am now a part. Kind of like handing off a baton in a sports event to the next player, generation upon generation has done this, for better or worse. Realizing that I can choose to participate in this fantastic role in history gives me hope I cannot fathom: that perhaps me, in all my failures and weakness and successes and strengths, can continue this baton event. This gives me joy. This gives me deep purpose. This purpose is similar to a production line, with thousands of people who never see each other but ultimately work towards the same noble goals. While not being the final purpose, the production line can be a good place with meaning beyond what we see. I propose that we do not settle: we must keep looking for meaning in all the things we do, even if it is just a production line. Yet, if we feel the call elsewhere, to find happiness by embarking on a Path Least Trodden, then we should go. Explore new possibilities, find new options! Find satisfaction in meaning.