I know what you're thinking.
Right out of the gate, a major writing faux pas - quoting Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken." Could there be a more clichéd, overused, and comprehensively mastered statement in all the English language?
But just wait.
Frost's message contains more than what you may have uncovered in Poetry Analysis class and it's anything but trite. He is speaking more subtly to a specific audience. In this instance, "the one [road] less traveled by" does not mean to take the road fewer choose, but to see the path no one else sees, to hear a call no one else hears, and to pursue it.
When my oldest son was three years old, he was about as nontraditional a thinker as a preschooler could get. Once at a birthday party at a local recreation center, he cared not about the cake, presents, and gymnastics mats. Instead, he walked the perimeter of the building, scoping out every nook and cranny and unlocked administrative office until he was satisfied he had found all there was to find.
When I would drive up to a popular shopping mall, from his carseat he strained to see and pointed toward the back of the building, where a narrow, empty road wrapped around to what I could only imagine were loading docks and the like, because I'd never ventured back there myself.
I paused to reflect on his desperate question, "what is back there?" away from the noise, the people, and the products intended for us to peruse. I recognized what it was he was responding to, a call away from the common, the attention grabbing, the loud, the blatant, the obvious, the superficial, the facade, the distraction, and the universally agreed upon. He had first, already, internalized that there is something more, and second, he was hungry for it.
My young son's curiosity and ability to cut through the noise aligns with the audience Frost is imploring with modeled recommendation to respond to the path to which you are internally drawn. And that this task will not be without doubt, obstacle, or even regret, but that those characteristics are not cause for avoidance, but may actually be the markers that make your journey extraordinary.
"Nothing that results in human progress is achieved with unanimous consent. Those that are enlightened before the others are condemned to pursue that light in spite of the others."
So, if you are facing great difficulty in a quest you began from a call within your heart, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and take solace in knowing that great change is not created by pursuing efforts that are comfortable, convenient, and celebrated by everyone. Know that it always begins with a vision and purpose that is bravely pursued, despite what others may think.
And that is what makes all the difference.
I have two young sons, ages six and four. From pregnancy and beyond, they have been mirroring back to me more than I ever could have dreamed of learning about myself and my own growth. As we grow together through this life, I hope to always mirror back to them the same inspiration, strength, and wonder they have shown me.