My older son is a senior in high school and he recently chose a quote to accompany his photo for his yearbook. I was impressed that in the midst of his friends choosing quotes from SpongeBob episodes (not offense to the Sponge!) or rap lyrics, he chose something sincere.
Similarly, when I was a senior in high school many of my friends wrote abbreviated messages to one another rather than actual quotes. When I think about it now, that space was like a Tweet, allowing a specific number of characters that resulted in messages that only a select few could decode: “NB LM JS nvr 4get. Srs rule! luv ya 4eva!” In fact, I remember that my boyfriend at the time was offended that I didn’t mention him in my quote space. The truth is that it hadn’t even occurred to me to mention him or any of the five girls I considered my best friends. To me, that space was intended to share something of yourself so I chose the last three lines of Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
On the verge of ending my high school experience and leaving my hometown for college in a big city, I was seeking new experiences. I hoped to do something with my life other than what may have been expected of me. To many, it may not appear that I took the road less travelled. I am married with two children and a dog. I no longer work outside of the home. I volunteer at my son’s school and at my church. Sounds pretty ordinary.
But when I think about the way that my life has unfolded, it doesn’t feel ordinary at all. It feels pretty spectacular. And when I walk in the Adirondack woods near our cabin with my husband and my dog, it’s a different Robert Frost poem that rings in my ears. Sometimes I wonder about continuing to pursue a dream that doesn’t appear to draw any closer to my fingertips. But pursuing dreams well into adulthood is a form of taking that road less traveled. And I think I have a long way to go before I sleep.
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
BY ROBERT FROST
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” from The Poetry of Robert Frost, edited by Edward Connery Lathem. Copyright 1923, © 1969 by Henry Holt and Company, Inc., renewed 1951, by Robert Frost. Reprinted with the permission of Henry Holt and Company, LLC. Source: Collected Poems, Prose, & Plays (Library of America, 1995)