The Road Less Taken is an illusory construction looking back on one’s past. When reviewing in light of the principles from Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich, what can Robert Frost’s most famous poem teach us. First, it helps to carefully review the poem.

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.

A close review, parsing the language as is required in the practice of law, is revealing. Let’s take one paragraph at a time.

The first paragraph identifies that there are two paths; recognizes to move forward requires a choice; and sizes up the first road. Was the first road the one on the right or the left? We are not told. It seems that the first road is first for only one reason … it was the first contemplated.

The second paragraph contemplates the second road … the other one. This paragraph identifies that this road was “just as fair” and had “perhaps the better claim,” yet was “really about the same[.]”

The third paragraph indicates that each road “equally lay” and that a decision was made which “kept the first for another day!”

Why then in the fourth paragraph, is it identified that he will be “telling this with a sigh” that all the difference was made by taking “the one less traveled by[?]”

The reality is that there was a choice made where the information indicated either would be a fine choice, but only after having made the choice as to which road to travel AND actually traveled has occurred is it determined that the choice had been to take the road less traveled.

As the 2015.09.11 posting this article of Paris Review in which David Orr reviews his book, The Road Less Taken is “The Most Misread Poem in America.” See [HERE]

The poem is a reflection on choice and justifying choices which one has thought about after the fact.

So, here’s an interesting question: At what time did Frost’s narrator identify the insight expressed as: “Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back.”

Was it upon coming upon the two roads when the choice had to be made? Or, was it upon reflection and reconstruction of the memory of coming upon the two roads?

I think the answer for this is really important.

Do you go through life with a sense of indifference as to which path you take? Sometimes divergent paths will later converge, but that’s probably a far cry from even half the time.

Instead, isn’t it worthwhile to have a map!

Napoleon Hill’s identified insight was a map of the attainment of one’s burning desire – i.e. goal – was best attained by gaining clarity of that goal and perceive it as already having been achieved.

By doing the work up front of defining the clear destination and then envisioning it as already having been completed, it becomes much easier to make decisions which propel one along the course toward one’s destination.

The choice then is to do the work along the way necessary to arrive. It’s paradoxically that simple … and that difficult.

What’s important – at least in my mind though – is that the destination is not nearly as important as the journey.

Sometimes, the worst thing that can occur is the attainment of a goal. Because, unless it can be replaced with a new one to allow you to keep on moving along the path, it’s easy to start to try to consider the path which “has the better claim.”

But in life, instead of just one possibility, each of us has infinite possibilities and so dwelling on that could take a lot of time, time which is being squandered.

Bottom line: Stopping to reflect for too long on which choice to make does little to no good, there will be time enough to make those reflections on a deathbed.

Choosing to move forward and acting to do so is necessary even in the late fall season … even when all the yellow leaves are off the trees.

Photo Credit: