Sunday, August 21, 2011

GUATEMALA 2011: (20) Two Roads Diverged... And I Travel Both

Life is always a matter of choice: which way do we go?
I always had issues with Mr. Frost because I would have said that one road diverged, not two. If two roads diverged, would the traveler not have had two choices, but four? This frustration with his description unfortunately was my undoing to further discover the clever nature of his ditty.

Did you know that neither road was less travelled by? Take a look:

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;
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. 

I didn't notice until reading this tonight the lines, "Had worn them about the same," and "equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black." Both paths were covered with fresh leaves.

I love this detail! My wife (the Literature Teacher) will think it is funny that I just now caught on to this, but I am delighted  by the fact that the traveler was faced with two equal choices with no discernable guide as to which was the better.

And his to say that years down the road when asked how he knew that the path he took was the correct choice, he would sigh and tell them that he went the path that few had taken, and that his wise choice had been the key factor in his success.

Don't we all believe that? We are told from our earliest memories that we'd better make the right choices, or our lives will be garbage. How many people do you know that have anxiety when choosing? How much energy do we waste on doubting our own decisions?

The choice simply will never matter.

Rather, what matters is this: are the steps you take down whatever path you find yourself on consistent with who you are? Know who you are, and walk according to your belief. We must take steps, even when the way is not clear. The path may change, but our belief and our walk should not.

But, Mr. Frost... I am afraid I take issue with the premise. Sometimes we walk both paths.

My Two Paths

Part of returning home from an experience of poverty immersion is the transition period back into our lives of comfort and materialism. The reality of human need and survival that has gripped your heart and mind for the past several days seems to stand in stark contrast to what, only days before... seemed so important and urgent to our lives. We wrestle with the emotion that remoras onto our experience (yes, I simply pirated this word and forced it to be something other than a noun).

I must tell you that it seems utterly impossible to my mind that it was only a week ago at this moment that I was arriving home, watching the door slowly rise on our garage, as we silently slipped back into our lives. We pulled our car onto the slab of concrete that was larger than the combination of both homes we build. This enclosure that held our two cars was greater than the structures that protected nearly a dozen human beings against the elements.

And so... I am walking two paths. I am physically here, bound by the laws of physics, in these United States. I am a father, a husband, a son, a neighbor, an employee, and a frequent internet consumer. And yet... I am also in a very tangible way still on that mountain in Cerro Alto looking into the eyes of those children. My heart and my soul is forever captivated by them and I have no desire to ever leave.

And I realize... I must be that same person as I walk down each path. I must know who I am, I must know what I believe, and I must make my choices in accordance. 

I see a divergence in a road... and at this moment, I chose to take them both. 

And that makes all the difference.

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