Monday, July 26, 2010

Two roads diverged in a wood

http://stevekokx.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/2roads.jpg

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--/ I took the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference.
- Robert Frost

This quote popped up in my Quotes of the Day link on my iGoogle page today. And it made me think of the many times I have repeated this quote to myself. My dad introduced me to Mr. Frost’s poetry probably in 3rd or 4th grade when he used this quote to explain why I was different from other kids in my class. I am sure I had been made fun of for being smart and was feeling pretty down about it. My Dad and Mom did their best to make me feel secure in being smart and being a girl, but also they provided much needed grounding to keep me bearable to live with!

I used this quote a lot in middle school as a personal touchstone when I saw my friends making different choices than I did. There was a reason to choose the less traveled by path--the difference it made in the long run. Making good choices, if less popular, was a life skill that my parents did a great job of teaching me. And although it didn’t really take the sting out of not making Gayfer’s Teen Board to the 15-year-old me, I did still repeat to myself through my tears of disappointment. I used it to remind myself of why I didn’t choose self-destructive behaviors when my parents got divorced. I used it to focus on why I was taking the killer schedule I had in junior and senior years. I used it to push through a pretty lonely and miserable semester at Emory University my freshman year of college. I even used this quote to get me through some rather tough break-ups with boyfriends past.

The story continues with the adult me and my history with this quote. I struggled with relationships with my parents and siblings. I chose how to react to new relationships in my parents’ lives and how to deal with having my brother come out as a gay person. This quote got me through a Master’s degree, many an administrative interview, and a lot of courses for my doctorate. In addition, the courage to choose the different path allowed me to find my soul mate in a person my parents’ age. And Gus and this quote made it possible for me to reinvent myself at age 39 and start an educational consulting business while waiting for the next job to come along. And this quote still inspires me to find that different path to achieve my next goal. I am wrestling with a way to deal with hunger in Tuscaloosa in a proactive and positive way. I will find that different path to allow me to do that. Thanks, Mr. Frost!

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