When two men meet for the first time, the ice-breaking question posed in conversation is almost inevitably, “What do you do for a living?” It’s a safe topic for guys, a bit like, “How old are your kids?” for women.
I’m often surprised at the answers I hear. Even if a guy (or girl) has trained four years or more for a vocation, they’re often in a career – or a specific vein of expertise – they simply stumbled onto.
We all make decisions, for varied reasons, that take us down a slightly different path.
It’s wonderful to hear, “I always knew I wanted to be a <insert vocation here> but I started out as a <different vocation here>. More often it’s something more like, “I never thought I’d be a <insert vocation here> but <insert life-changing event here> happened and this is where I wound up.
I think we can all identify with Robert Frost’s character in his classic poem, “The Road Not Taken.” He is “sorry <he> could not travel both” roads and predicts he will be “telling this with a sigh somewhere ages…hence.”
I am tempted to think that way – sighing and regretting some of my life choices – thinking I might have had a fuller life, more productive perhaps. But I don’t linger there long.
I choose to focus on the path I’m on and all the wonderful things I’ve done and seen, all the people I’ve met who’ve helped me, people I’ve learned from, people I’ve helped. A different path would have simply been…different.
The Road Not Taken
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.
Robert Frost (1916)
I absolutely love the sentiment! But I must object and argue the point. It’s not the road that has made all the difference – it’s my attitude along the way.
Read more classic poetry here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44272/the-road-not-taken
Your comments here are always welcome.