I have always envied people who really know what they want out of life, whether it is in a career or in their personal lives. My whole life, it seems, has been about distractions. Every time I start something or focus on something, another thing comes along to distract me and before I know it, a bunch of time has flown by and not only have I missed my original focus or goal, but often miss what has distracted me as well (or it has been a time waster).
To be sure, these distractions are not always wastes of time. Sometimes they turn out to be great fun, or very beneficial. Certainly they nearly always turn out to be learning experiences. Still, I wonder – would my life be better if I had not followed some of these distractions, or just different? Would I be where I am today, or further along life’s path? Would I be married with a fabulous career, married with a terrible career, or single with either one of these? Would I have children? Would I live in Minnesota, or somewhere else, somewhere I have always wanted to live?
Does anyone else ever wonder what life would be like if you had made the other choice when faced with a decision that ended up changing the course of your life?
Thoughts like these make me think of one of my favorite poems, by Robert Frost.
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 marked 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.
One thing I do know – my decision to become a Peace Corps Volunteer was NOT a distraction, but a goal I feel like, after many years, I am working to achieve. As I embark on yet another new assignment, and get further into my service, I sometimes have to remind myself why I am here. I get tired. I get frustrated. I wonder why is things happen to me.There are days I hate it, living in a developing country where I do not have a kitchen, don’t understand most of what goes on around me, and don’t understand many of the cultural differences.
Then I think – how many “I” statements can I make? Is it all about me? Is my physical or mental comfort really suffering? No. It is my pride, or my American standards, that are hurt. I am so much better off, physical comfort-wise, than many other volunteers. I remind myself why I am here – to make a difference. Not to change the world. Not to benefit me. To make a difference in some small way. And you know what? I get up the next morning, and keep going.
This is the road less traveled by. I believe makes and will continue to make, a difference.