Pithy Quote: When You Come to the Fork in the Road, Take it!

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When you come to the fork in the road, take it. Yogi Berra was right. Well, sort of. If we keep walking, we will be faced with new forks in the road. It may be time to make new choices. We are unlikely to be presented with an opportunity to double back. Commit to your passions. Carry them in your backpack. Dare to take the next step on the ‘road-of-the-I-do-not-know.’ I believe that the expression, If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there is a distortion of the truth. It suggests that living without goals is aimless. I create a life of adventure, discovery and manifestation. I co-create a world where people are safe to bring what they love and what matters into being — by being a compassionate teacher and expressive painter. That is my mission; not a goal. When I chose a path and stay on mission, there is rarely any remorse. SIGH!

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The speaker stands in the woods, considering a fork in the road. Both ways are equally worn and equally overlaid with un-trodden leaves. The speaker chooses one, telling himself that he will take the other another day. Yet he knows it is unlikely that he will have the opportunity to do so. And he admits that someday in the future he will recreate the scene with a slight twist: He will claim that he took the less-traveled road…

…Ironic as it is, this is also a poem infused with the anticipation of remorse. Its title is not “The Road Less Traveled” but “The Road Not Taken.” Even as he makes a choice (a choice he is forced to make if does not want to stand forever in the woods, one for which he has no real guide or definitive basis for decision-making), the speaker knows that he will second-guess himself somewhere down the line—or at the very least he will wonder at what is irrevocably lost: the impossible, unknowable Other Path. But the nature of the decision is such that there is no Right Path—just the chosen path and the other path. What are sighed for ages and ages hence are not so much the wrong decisions as the moments of decision themselves—moments that, one atop the other, mark the passing of a life. This is the more primal strain of remorse.

Thus, to add a further level of irony, the theme of the poem may, after all, be “seize the day.” But a more nuanced carpe diem, if you please.

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Robert Frost (C. 1910)
b. 1874 – d. 1963

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Two roads diverged in the woods, and I

I took the one less traveled by,

and that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

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The Road Not Taken

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.

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SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on Frost’s Early Poems.” SparkNotes LLC. 2002. http://www.sparknotes.com/poetry/frost/ (accessed June 21, 2010).

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