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, 1920
This poem has been running through my head all day. I saw my therapist this morning, and we talked vocation. Basically, I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up. And referring back to the incomparable Mr. Frost, my heart is telling me to forget both roads and a random deer trail. My head doesn’t think this is such a good idea.
In terms of symbolism, roads and crossroads are universal enough that it kinda seems silly to be writing about them. But, this is the imagery that has been following me around today, so here goes.
Roads and paths are all about movement. It is common for us to speak of our “path in life”. Roads indicate direction in our journeys, be they physical, spiritual or emotional. They also give us a way to gauge our movement.
Roads are indicative of a correct way, a way of safety and security. I love to spend time exploring the desert with my dad. One of the things that he taught me is that all roads go somewhere–even if it’s an old mine or an abandoned shepherds camp. Further, dirt tracks will eventually link on to a graded road, and graded roads lead to blacktop. Once you reach blacktop, finding your way back to civilization is a piece of cake. So it would follow, that in my emotional journey, the best way is to stay on the beaten path.
Except that’s not me.
I’ve talked about being a seeker in the past. This part of me wants to forge my own path, to seek vistas and horizons that are not commonly seen. I want to explore freely, and find my own way–and yet I’m scared to do so.
Two roads diverged–one is a safer, but duller path. The other is more exciting, but also more dangerous. And so very rarely are choices between just one or the other.
In The Book of Symbols, “Road” is listed as part of the human world, in the section of movement and expression. “Crossroad” is listed as part of the spirit world, in the section for rituals and symbols. Crossroads carry a heavier metaphysical weight than simple roads do. Crossroads are by nature liminal, they exists between worlds. In some traditions, a person can meet the devil at a crossroads to make a deal with him.
Crossroads represent a choice, both in the physical realm and in the spiritual. These choices are not to be made lightly–as Frost’s traveler says “I doubted if I should ever come back”.
The fear of making a wrong decision is intense. The only thing I know is that not making one will be a worse mistake than choosing the wrong path.