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.
Once upon a time, I had big Olympic dreams of my own. For much of my childhood and adolescence, figure skating was my whole life. With each competition season came the excitement of new music and glittery, elegant dresses—though jumping and performing were probably my favorite things (I wasn’t only in it for the sparkle!).
With all this nostalgia brought on by the Winter Olympics these past couple weeks, the iconic Robert Frost poem, “The Road Not Taken,” kept coming to mind. Most people assume that the moral of this poem is to not be afraid to take the more difficult road, even if it’s not the popular one.
The oft-quoted lines are the final two: “I took the one less traveled by / And that has made all the difference.” However, an alternative interpretation has stuck with me since studying Frost in college, and it requires looking at the poem as a whole.
Frost is telling a story, where he was faced with two roads. He even admits that the road he ended up choosing was “just as fair” and that the two paths had “worn them really about the same.” After his choice, he says that he would likely never be in that exact place again—a metaphor, of course: in life, we aren’t usually presented with the same opportunities twice. We make a decision, we pick a route, and the course of our journey is changed forever.
Though eventual injuries and health issues took me off the ice at 15, the entire skating experience brought me such happiness. It taught me invaluable life lessons about self-confidence and perseverance. I learned that even when we fall, we must always get back up.
I chose to go down that road in the pursuit of a dream, and though it didn’t end where I hoped it would, I wouldn’t be who I am today without those 11 glorious years on the ice. In my opinion, that’s the point Frost was making—the roads we choose to go down shape us and our journey, whether it’s a rough path, a smooth one, or one that ends in a place different than we imagined. But it’s the choice, it’s the journey—that’s what makes “all the difference.”
We’ve had some snow this week in the Portland area, and, feeling that Olympic fever, I headed to a local rink to dust off my skates! I love this cozy off-the-shoulder sweater I recently bought from H&M (comes in five colors and is under $30!). My Marc Jacobs beanie is a few years old, but I linked some similar gray options above. My Hudson jeans are super comfy and stretchy—perfect for an afternoon of skating (especially since I’m not throwing double axels these days!).
P.S. Was anyone else blown away by Mirai Nagasu’s historic triple axel in the Team Event?! And Nathan Chen’s record-breaking quads?! So excited for the Ladies’ Free Skate!!!