Ponder over the following beautiful lines of Robert Frost from his poem ‘The road not taken’
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.
While Frost had to contend with one road that diverged in a yellow wood, our path in the journey of life is full of such forks or even with three or more diverging branches baffling us at several stages. As we cannot stand still and stare waveringly at the roads ahead, we are perforce to choose one to proceed further. Once taken there is no looking back in many cases. While we carefully choose the roads with only a hazy picture of where they may lead to, we fondly hope that our choices are such that we can say like the poet “And that has made all the difference.”
In life however things are always not that rosy. The choices are also not in our hands with several externalities deciding them. Take the case of a bright student not financially well placed but who aspires to do medicine and do research in the related field. Since the competition is high with demand exceeding supply and the wealthy can buy the seats, this guy loses out in the race and opts for another course that he least prefers. Likewise a young man who wished to pursue his studies beyond graduation level is sucked into rich family business by family compulsions. Both have disappointments. A third guy got his ambition of an engineering seat through hefty donation but could not cope with the rigour of study and had to drop out.
One former senior bureaucrat Mr. Kutty had put this interestingly in one of his lectures.”We cry over what we lose. Often we cry over what we gain. Two little teardrops were floating down the river of life. One tear drop asked the other. “Who are you?” It answered “I was shed by a girl who loved a man and lost him. And who are you?” Replied the first teardrop:”Well, I was shed by the girl who got him.”
It is sometimes an irony of life that those who realize their ambition and those who fail are equally disappointed with the outcomes. It is only very few who make the right choices and are happy too. Merit does not always play a big role. The wisest do not always run the country, the best deserving do not get recognition, the virtuous do not always succeed and the honest rarely thrives in business. It has got to do with some things more than what the roads they chose had to offer.
Often many avoid roads less travelled due to its unfamiliarity, difficult terrain and uncertain destination and take to boulevards that are well kept and crowded. We witness many talented writers slogging in government offices unsure about writing as a profession, several with a research oriented minds settling for stifling and humdrum positions, capable bureaucrats wasting their years in obscure posts. There could be many justifiable reasons for the choices. May be if circumstances permit they should make mid=course correction and choose something after their heart. I am reminded of a few successful writers, a few activists and officials turned politicians and some successful entrepreneurs change to social reformers in the recent past solely guided by the passion in their hearts. They had the courage to break away from the dull routine however comfortable.The real test of life is to have the boldness and determination to choose the right fork and where chosen to persist with commitment regardless of how difficult and unpopular the choice is. The presence of an enabling and liberal society, where every individual is allowed to reach his full potential without any imposition of manmade hurdles and where merit is recognized, would be an advantage. It is only then people can choose intuitively what one desires, however uncommon and unique the choice is, and succeed in the path chosen. There is of course the imponderable destiny. It is for us to follow the path of wisdom trusting in God but ‘keeping the gun powder dry’ as Oliver Cromwell told his soldiers.