“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I– I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.”
— The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
A well-traveled path is well-beaten, but not always best.
As I was picking up some trash on our street this afternoon with gloved hands and fluttering trash bag, I looked into the woods nearby.
Although the trees are tall enough to be a forest, it’s still an urban lot. A lot for development, though still undeveloped. The trees are planted in straight rows. It’s bounded by three noisy streets and a row of town homes. Nonetheless, the birds, deer and occasionally a coyote call it home.
As soon as I stepped inside, things changed. It was quieter. I could see that the straight rows of trees were entangled with thorny vines. Fallen limbs blocked my way sometimes, other times brambles. Leaves crunched under my feet. Blackbirds flew out in flocks over my head. I ducked, I stumbled and I was entangled briefly but I continued.
As I walked deeper, I looked back at my neighborhood. The houses were the same, but different. The cars zoomed by as they always do but they too looked different, more distant. The deeper I went, the more I left my neighborhood and the harder it was to see.
But for those few moments in the woods, with my view obstructed, I saw things more clearly. I saw my neighborhood in a different way, in a different light. The details don’t matter much. It just matters that it was different.
It’s hard to see anything differently if we always look at the same things, in the same way, from the same place. If we want to do different things, if we want to be different people, we have to look at things differently.
It doesn’t happen instantly. It starts slowly. First, by noticing what paths we’re on. Then by stopping, looking around and taking a few tentative steps …
… off the well-beaten path.
Cleaned up some trash in my neighborhood, a neighborhood that now looks a little different.