What Lies Beyond the Bend in the Road
“In three words I can sum up everything I know about life: it goes on.” Robert Frost, American Poet, 1874 – 1963
Hmmm, is the straight road safer than the one that that twists and turns beyond our line of sight?
The older I get the more I see in those three simple words by Robert Frost. Admittedly, they sound a bit cynical at first blush, especially from the poet who wrote The Road Not Taken. The last stanza of that 1920’s poem rings as true today as it did all those years ago.
I shall be telling this with a sign,
Somewhere ages and ages hence;
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –
I took the ones less travelled by.
And that has made all the difference.
How does one bridge the gap between these classic lines that resonate with wisdom and the blank confession at the top of this post? Surely Frost must have unlocked some of the mystery of life in order to pen the elegant verses that he did.
Here is something you should know about those of us who trade in words and metaphors. We write in large part because very often we do not understand life. It confuses us and stubbornly refuses to conform to any set of rules.
The act of writing is simultaneously an attempt to decode the riddle of life and to impose some order on it. We create characters and put them in complicated situations to see what they will do. Where they end up is often not where we expected to be taking them. They take on a life of their own and persuade us to fulfill their desires.
Let’s backtrack to the first stanza of 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:
This incisively sums up how life challenges us. We are faced with roads that we can only see part way down. We have no idea what lies beyond the next bend. The temptation is to seek out the road that looks the straightest. Fewer bends means fewer risks – or so it would seem.
But there are flaws in that way of thinking. Straight roads can lead to perdition just as readily as curving ones. A bend in the road could be hiding a treasure that would make our life immeasurably better.
The Road Less Taken is a metaphor for life on multiple levels. Choose the one that works best for you. As life goes on, all we can really know is that all roads sooner or later have bends and all bends have an equal chance of hiding a hardship or a treasure.
~ Michael Robert Dyet is the author of “Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel” – double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at www.mdyetmetaphor.comor the novel online companion at www.mdyetmetaphor.com/blog.
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