Sunday Snippet: Robert Frost (1874-1963)

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”

Life is too short to live in regret. I’ve always been my own worst critic and my toughest boss. I had a particularly challenging evening last night with my daughter and I was almost not able to get today’s blog post up at all. I felt an intense pressure to complete this post, because if I missed writing it, it would be the first time I’ve missed a “Sunday Snippet” since starting the series.

But who would notice? While a good number of people do read this blog (and I’m eternally thankful for their continued support), I imagine not too many of them would care all that much if I were to miss a Sunday Snippet. They’ve got other content to read and other things to do. Life goes on.

Perhaps that is one of the most profound lessons I can learn from American poet Robert Frost. As we navigate through the turmoil and chaos of our everyday lives, the rest of the world continues on with its business. We fool ourselves into thinking that we are the center of the universe. Other people don’t think about you or your actions nearly as often as you think they might.

Maybe even more on point, many of us have the unfortunate habit of making too big a deal out of matters that, well, don’t really matter all that much. If I don’t get my child into this preschool, I will set her down a lifelong path of failure. If I don’t nail this interview, I won’t get the job I want and my career will come crashing down. But that’s not true.

Robert Frost is best known for his poem “The Road Not Taken.” The final lines read:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Some people might interpret this to mean that you should dare to be different. Robert Frost is saying you should challenge conformity and take the less popular path, right? As a freelance writer, I can certainly appreciate this unconventional approach. But if you read it that way, I think you’re missing the point.

The point isn’t that you should take the road “less traveled by,” per se. The point is that you should not allow yourself to be frozen in indecision. Don’t just stand at the fork in the road and make no progress. You should just pick one and get on with your way. Life will go on either way.