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.
Robert Frost (1915)
When I first read Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” in high school I immediately identified with the words and read them endlessly. My life had already taken a difficult path, the arduous life of a swimmer. In making this choice, I bypassed many school-girl activities to achieve the goals I laid out for myself. I was often questioned how I could spend so much time doing something so frivolous and seemingly useless. Apart from the life lessons of time-management, overcoming disappointment and relishing in accomplishment, swimming took me from San Diego to Providence and opened up a world of opportunity that I might have otherwise overlooked or not even been offered. Robert Frost’s message, which is now sadly cliché from overexposure, bespeaks an important lesson. A history of making difficult life decisions renders future complicated life decisions less scary.
My unusually somber tone stems from an existential crisis originating with my accident and furthered by the closing of this decade. It seems like only yesterday the world was crazed over Y2K and dancing to Prince’s 1999. But, more than just a party, the end of a decade is a perfect time for introspection, a task that we tend to abhor and procrastinate. I have utilized this time to consider the roads that I have taken and the effects these decisions have had on me and those around me. More importantly, though, is finding a moment to contemplate the future. Never one for regret, I make my choices carefully and weigh the potential consequences heavily, even if it means taking a path not understood by the majority. This past decade was an important one, full of choices with indeterminate outcomes; I got married, I moved across country, I started a new job, I began coaching, I made new friends, I continued to race professionally. I look to 2010 and beyond with excitement and a bit of trepidation, but I expect new challenges and new beginnings, even if it means taking a road less traveled by.