Discovering unchartered territory is not an easily accomplished task. Setting out on a pathway in either a bustling urban landscape or in the solitude of a remote location usually means encountering the artifacts left behind by those who came before. Who amongst us has not set out in peaceful seclusion on a windswept dune, confident that a human traveler had not trod the same isolated path for decades only to step, quite unceremoniously, on a discarded beer can?
The thought we had when setting out into the pristine isolated wild that we were the first human to make the trek is dashed. We feel let down and saddened that we cannot avoid the inescapable evidence that we are not the first person stepping in uncharted land.
We like to think that our choices – the paths we view ahead and upon which we choose to walk – are unique. We search for importance and meaning. We don’t want our decisions to be trivial; we want the weighty choices in our life to have significance. And it’s part of the human condition, isn’t it, that we inevitably find ourselves wondering at a later time “what if I had…” “Would it have meant more if I had done…?” “Why didn’t I…?”
Yet we are forced to make choices. We must determine which road we shall go down even when we have neither guidance nor enough facts upon which to base our decision.
But choose a path we must.
There is, at the end of our days, no need to look back (perhaps with a sigh of regret) and wonder what we missed. It’s useless to speculate on the unknown that we never encountered.
While there may not be one right path there is, inescapably, the path we choose. And then there’s the other path.
Not better. Not worse. Merely untraveled.
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