Robert Frost’s famous poem is 100 years old this month! Did you know literary reviewers think the message is much simpler than we have made it over the years . . . Lawrance Thompson, Frost’s biographer, noted that the poem’s narrator is “one who habitually wastes energy in regretting any choice made: belatedly but wistfully he sighs over the attractive alternative rejected.”
Let’s not do that. Don’t spend time second guessing yourself. Don’t let those little, nagging, negative voices in your head allow you to regret the road not taken. You made a choice. You did the best you could with the information you had. Or, maybe you didn’t – that is still okay!
Don’t fret. You can’t walk every path. It’s okay. Life is full of twists and turns. Just keep going. That is all that matters.
And, in the end, there really only is one path – the road taken. And, that’s okay, too.
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.
Are you ready? Accepting this thoughtful challenge is a quick and relatively easy way to see how we are shaping our minds, our outlook and our lives.
For the next 24 hours listen to what you tell yourself. Pay attention to the voices chattering away in your head. Notice your words, their frequency, and your tone. Record the results on your phone or a post-it note with the following headings:
“+” (a plus sign) for positive,
“N” for neutral,
“-“ (a minus sign) for negative.
Every time you notice yourself thinking, quickly review your thoughts and put a slash mark under the appropriate heading.
Fun, happy or pleasant thoughts = “+”
EX:“Mmm, this coffee tastes great.”, “OMG, I’m looking good.”, “What a pretty day.”
Cranky, cynical or critical thoughts – of yourself, others or your circumstances = “-”
EX: “I hate . . . “; “What a . . . ” “Why do I always . . .”; “This isn’t fair, I . . .”; ” I would never . . .” “He/She/This really makes me …”
Instructional, general, non-emotional = “N”
EX: “I need to fix the sink.” Time to change the oil”, “Hmm, do I need to turn left or right?”; “I need to buy new shoes.” (Oh, wait for some of us buying shoes might be a happy thought. I’ll let you decide.)
Be honest, and go with your first assessment. If a thought starts positive or neutral, but ends negative, or vice-versa, count it in the category where it ends.
I realize that noticing how often we are talking to ourselves and categorizing what we are saying can be both bothersome and, well, challenging, but I think you are up to it!
The truth is, most of us really don’t know what’s going on in our pretty little heads. We don’t have a clue of the messages we are sending ourselves.
Once you’ve tracked your thoughts for 24 hours, post your results below. Feel free to take part in the poll, even if didn’t categorize each and every thought, but did pay more attention than normal to them. Just be honest about your summary.
Thanks for sharing. Stop back over the next few Mondays to view the poll results, and learn what you can do to create some wishful whispers, which are softer than most of the noise in our heads, and much more relaxing, rewarding and productive.