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.
At different stages of my life, this has borne different meaning. As a child, it was all about adventure. Finding a secret path or hidden door was deeply planted in my imagination from The Secret Garden and the Narnia series. As a young adult, i remember stumbling across it and was struck by the expanse of choices in life and how they were all in front of me sort of like the choose your own adventure novels. Now, i smile to myself and think of the last stanza and how true that has been as i scroll back through the past forty years of full-throttle living. Taking the road less traveled has been a tremendous blessing. i see this as i look at my divorce in particular.
Somehow, divorce has a script attached to it where you are positioned in an adversarial role with each other, then friends and family are cast as supporters of you or him, depending where their loyalty falls. It is kind of drawn along the same lines that seating at a wedding happens: you are either a guest of the groom or the bride for the we-are-so-mad-at him-or-her ride for the foreseeable future. It is easy to find people to be on your team if you want to bash your ex or complain about him. it is harder, i have found, for people to be comfortable with you remaining friends with him, much less entwined in his life. The less-travelled road that i have been fortunate enough to be on is one of new relationship with my ex-spouce that is rooted in our friendship and fueled by our commitment to each other as co-parents. We are further gifted with my husband’s support of our relationship and commitment to parent with both of us. This is not a path which has gotten as much space in the movies or TV shows or novels (that i know of), and catches people very much by surprise when they encounter it in us.
It has, however, made all the difference.
You know the phrase that states that it takes far more muscles to frown than it does to smile, right? i don’t know if it is true or not, but the message is one that i resonate with. i know that it feels better when i am happy and definitely feels nicer to be at peace than to be angry. To a small degree, at least, one can choose to travel down the angry road and get wrapped up in negativity instead or moving toward forgiveness and contentedness which promotes positivity. For me, i have found veering away from the all-too-familiar path of marinating in negativity post-divorce has been the gift that just keeps on giving. i get to have another adult who has my back, can be trusted with my kids, shares my load, has known me forever, calls me on my crap, and wishes me well. i know that this is not possible for all but suspect that it is possible for far more than are taking advantage of it.
If you see, ahead in your journey, two roads diverged in a wood, i highly recommend taking the one that moves you toward compassion, reconciliation, and peacefulness even though it is not the popular route…it’s just nicer…i promise…