The Road Not Taken

Journeying through the forest, you find yourself before a fork in the road. There’s no signage around to give you direction, so you glance between the paths attempting to find a difference. You glance down to the left as far as you can until it bends into the distant autumn trees. And then you turn to the right which seems equally fine, but perhaps a bit more grassy as if less worn. Studying the golden leaves paving the paths, you realize the paths are probably equally worn. These paths, splitting off in completely different directions, will bring their own unique dangers, sights, and futures. Yet, here at the beginning there’s so little to see. For a long while, you contemplate these two seemingly identical roads weighing their minute differences. Perhaps you’ll save the other path for another day, though you know that’s rarely the way it goes.

So you somehow make up your mind and go on and on down a path through many more twists and turns, many more triumphs and tumbles. And at each intersection, you never learn about the fate of the road untaken. All you do know is the path you did take, the consequences of the choices you did make. Perhaps a left over there would have taken you into a dark cave with only a few ways out. Perhaps a right back there would have taken you higher giving you a beautiful view above the treetops. But, all you have is your journey behind you, and there’s no more decisions to be made.

But, what if you could look back and know for sure which turns were a definite mistake, which single moments diminished your journey in every way? You would gain complete knowledge and judgment for decisions long ago decided and along paths long ago unpaved.

But, would you want to know? Would you want the powerlessness of regret in exchange for a glimmer of truth? You could gaze longingly at other trails knowing it was better without any real argument able to tear you away. Truth, the dogmatic virtue, would diminish your journey already taken. This truth offers no pragmatic value or applicable knowledge, it only offers regret.

So, years from now, you’ll finding yourself remembering a decision you made. Do you sigh and ponder if you made the right choice? Do you try to glean some truth from your mistakes? Or do you ignore analysis and find ways to smile?

As for me, I’ll look back with my handy pair of rose colored glasses. When two roads diverged in a yellow wood, I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference.