The Road Not Taken

_DSC0085To say that I and the people around me have had the year from hell is an understatement.  I have been waging battles and battles have been waged against me.  I have sought the counsel of friends, coworkers, partners, therapists, mentors, and career counselors.  I have meditated, cried, prayed, run, screamed, and pounded my fists against tables.  I have spent time in introspection, outer-spection (this should be a word), and around the block and down the street-spection.  I have questioned God, the universe, my sanity, my purpose, and the laws of truth and fairness.  I have spent many nights ruminating, contemplating, annihilating, vacillating, and capitulating.

And finally, however brief and fleeting it may be, I have a sense of peace.  Whichever way this turns out, I feel a sense of calm.  I have felt this before over the past year, but inevitably someone, something would go and muck it up.  Whatever truce had been forged would be ruined by the distant gunfire of deceit.  Waging battle means you have something to lose.  Today, I don’t feel like I have anything to lose.  There is a freedom in that.  I have the sense that my toes are dangling on the edge of a cliff, the waters raging beneath, and I could swan dive into the depths of the ocean, perfectly, with the slightest ripple and splash as my feet enter the water like an Olympian.  I rise to the surface, my face breaking through the imperceptible line between water and air, gasping in the salty oxygen, victorious.

I’m diving in.  All in.  I’m about to find out what I’m worth.  Will I be bargain basement?  Target? Neiman Marcus? Will I be on clearance or discarded at the Goodwill?  Funny thing is, million dollar artwork has been found at the Goodwill.  One man’s trash….

I know what I’m worth, that’s where the battle began.  My worthiness (all of our worthiness) is not defined by dollar signs, but by integrity, work ethic, and the ability to give the absolute best without financial gain.  Getting the best out of me does not increase with the size of the check.  The best things from me happen when there is no money involved.  Like this blog.  Like teaching.  Like phone calls to my patients.  Like humor in the face of despair.  The best things in me come out when no one is looking, when no one is paying attention.

I am at a crossroads.  I have been here for longer than a year.  I have stood, pacing back and forth, sometimes putting one foot to the left and walking a bit, then backtracking and going right.  Sometimes going back up the main path, but never able to get back to the beginning for all the roadblocks in my way.  I’m not scared.  I have no fear.  I know my worth and it can not be measured and it can not be bought.

A poem hangs in my exam room, one of my favorites, The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost.  I thought I hung it there for my patients, but really I put it there for myself.  It’s a reminder to follow my path, however strange and unyielding it may be.

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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41 Responses to The Road Not Taken

  1. You are not alone doctor. This is one I often refer to in my 74 years. I hope you like it.

    One night I dreamed a dream.
    As I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
    Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life.
    For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand,
    One belonging to me and one to my Lord.

    After the last scene of my life flashed before me,
    I looked back at the footprints in the sand.
    I noticed that at many times along the path of my life,
    especially at the very lowest and saddest times,
    there was only one set of footprints.

    This really troubled me, so I asked the Lord about it.
    “Lord, you said once I decided to follow you,
    You’d walk with me all the way.
    But I noticed that during the saddest and most troublesome times of my life,
    there was only one set of footprints.
    I don’t understand why, when I needed You the most, You would leave me.”

    He whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you
    Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
    When you saw only one set of footprints,
    It was then that I carried you.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. dawnkinster says:

    I almost didn’t read this, I’m so far behind in reading blogs I’ve been skipping a lot…but I love your blog and now I am so glad I did. I can not WAIT to hear what happens next. To be stuck deciding for over a year is hard. I’ve been trying to sort something out for even longer. It’s exhausting too. I’m glad you’ve decided to dive in. Best wishes for you, though you don’t need them. You’re going to do great.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m behind on my reading, too. Thank you for taking the time to read mine. Your words are so encouraging. Best of luck with what causes you to struggle. You’ll know the answer when that sense of peace comes over you.


  3. Interesting how we humans can relate to your description of this struggle without knowing any details of the matter. I am happy for you that peace has come. I too love that Robert Frost poem. I am wrestling with a decision right now and hope to come to that place of not only peace but joy. Thanks for sharing your introspection.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This.shaking says:

    Perhaps this will work for you:
    Always glad to hear from you. Good wishes.. TS

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dewy says:

    Loved it. The last year for me have been hellish as well and my thoughts ? What was coming needed to come and well it did.
    It made me realise something . Work doesn’t define me. I was wrong to think it did. It was just a job to earn money . People I thought was behind me wasn’t . Anyhow tough lesson learnt.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. artalexiusr says:

    Doc I just somehow know that you will find peace, I may be thousands of miles away but I just somehow know. On the crossroad you shall not be for long. May God be with you.

    Liked by 1 person

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  8. Mike Kizer says:

    No one has mentioned how brave and smart you are, and how well you express a very human dilemma.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. 2ndhalfolife says:

    Sigh for sure. I was just thinking today how I always seem to take the wrong road. Some one of these days I will be faced again with a huge decision about which road to take. It is scary because I often (usually?) seem to go the “wrong” way and end up feeling lost and though I’ve made some mistake. Of course it is my life, so it can’t have been a mistake (although maybe I’m living a more content life in an alternative Universe), but this time I would sure like to feel less like life is a struggle.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Victo Dolore says:

    I can think of a million awful things this post could potentially be referencing. Gah! I wish you strength and ongoing peace.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Sometimes the worst possible situations, when we are forced into them just finally makes you say you’ve done what you can do and just keep putting one foot in front of the other. I had accidentally put something as a pop up reminder on my cell of a horrid place/situation I was in exactly 2 years ago yesterday and when I saw it – well, seemed impossible to believe it was that long ago and things are better! Here’s good vibes, prayers and thoughts that whatever you are going through has the best possible outcome! Feel free to email me privately (I’m known as “the vault” with my family and friends) if ya want to talk without any judgement ever! hugs my friend!!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. amber Fort says:

    I know about the road less travelled. Thing is my sweet friend….you’ve always been on that road. You’ve been paving it. Love you.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Deb says:

    Follow your gut and hold strong. I can truly relate to that stepping off into the unknown. Sometimes it’s the only choice.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I can really realate to this blog post. Love the poem. Stay strong my friend!! We got this! No one fights alone. Love you💗❌⭕

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Kenneth T. says:

    The strength is within you, be strong and you will persevere.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Above all, I sense power in your writing.
    I love the Frost poem, too. It made me smile to read about your revelation that you hung it on your office wall for yourself.
    Here’s my mantra – Leap, and the net will appear.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Very well expressed. I am also on the Road Not Taken at this point in my life. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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