By Omar Bihmidine
By Omar Bihmidine
Morocco World News
Sidi Ifni, Oct 12, 2012
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.
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference,” wrote Romantic poet Robert Frost in a poem entitled “The Road Not Taken”. Regardless of the multiple interpretations the poem can receive from us, one point we must all agree upon is that this poem addresses us as individuals who could have taken the second road, but ended up taking the first one.
Our parents, for instance, once wanted us to become doctors, but instead we ended up becoming teachers, masons or shopkeepers. At many points in our lives, we once aspired to become businessmen and businesswomen and worked diligently for these positions but we probably made the wrong decision and have therefore ended up becoming waiters or bricklayers.
Such is life where we are offered two diverging roads and we have no idea which one leads to where our dreamland lies! In reality, there were many times when we were faced with two choices and we could not make out which one would lead us to where we wanted to arrive as travelers.
It appears that in the end, we felt compelled to make up our minds and decide upon a choice. Yet, with time, we wish we had chosen the other road, especially when it is already too late to turn back. At other times, some of us may think that the grass is always greener on the other side and that it is no use feeling remorseful.
As far as my academic life is concerned, I still vividly remember that when I earned DEUG, my first university degree, I was in front of a labyrinth, not knowing whether to apply for the position of a middle school teacher or to pursue my studies and earn a higher degree. As poet Robert Frost brilliantly put it, “having perhaps the better claim, because the road was grassy and wanted wear”, I considered the road leading to the teaching profession as grassy and needing wear.
It was ‘grassy’, for I would finally land a job to financially support myself and my family, and it was ‘ wear-needing’ because only the most hard-working university students managed to procure the position. Running away from unemployment and joining the noblest profession the soonest possible was behind my choice of the first road rather than the second road. In the end, however, it turns out that the graduates who failed to take the first road have ended up taking the second one which is now more self-fulfilling to them. And this has ‘made all the difference’ for me and my fellow first road takers.
Wherever we look on this planet, we find that Robert Frost’s poem holds true. In Zagora, 350 km from Marrakech, school-girls get married at a very early age because parents prefer marriage to studying for their daughters. Girls who are excellent in school can get married at 14 if they are proposed to. If they are asked to choose between ranking first in school and pursuing studies or marriage, they will instantly opt for marriage.
Many times, girls who rank first in Zagora choose to drop out of school to get married and to become housewives instead of female engineers, doctors, nurses and businesswomen. In Zagora, they choose a different road from that of other areas. For them, the road that leads to marriage can never be compared to the road that could lead to spinsterhood. Since they can not “travel both roads” like their counterparts in other Moroccan areas, they end up taking the road that can make them lead a happy life.
From the cradle to the grave, we have been taking different roads. Sometimes, we are satisfied with what we find at the end of the road. At other times, we regret not taking the road other people have taken, particularly when they find solace in their journey. Yet, destiny has always defeated us, after all. Life is short. No sooner do we take the road we choose for ourselves than we are stunned to learn that we could have lived a happier life. The remorse usually comes too late to matter.
“If I had married the first suitor, I would be living a happy life now,” some women think to themselves. “If I had pursued my studies, I would be an engineer now,” some graduates believe. “If I had not gotten married early, I would have completed my studies,” a girl from Zagora thinks to herself. “If I had not taken the dilapidated bus, I wouldn’t have sustained any injuries,” a survivor of an accident says to himself. What all these people are doing now in life is simply the result of the difference the road they once took has made.
Robert Frost himself once took the road “less traveled by” for his own ulterior motives. Possibly, he was a loner. He really wanted to arrive where others did not. For at first sight, the road he took appeared grassy. Despite the grassy appearance, the poet felt he would later “sigh”, a clear sign of remorse.
Casting another look at the multi-layered meanings of the poem, the moral lesson we must learn is that it is never too late to be what you might have been. If we “seize the day,” we can try our hand at turning back and taking the other road. We could all have taken the road not taken, but have we? Herein lies the secret.