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Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Roads Not Taken

Usually, I take decisions easily and I trust my intuition. Sometimes, it has taken me a bit longer to take decisions for important things but once it was done I didn't reconsider and I didn't try to think too much of the alternative roads.

After all, each choice is made on the basis of a methodology. While very often the method is the intuition, the blink (Malcolm Gladwell), other times - it is a value. In third cases, the decision is taken by someone else or by chance.

Recently, I had a strange nostalgic sensation about what has not been. I was missing the un-happened and the almost-happened. It was not something concrete, just a cumulative longing for the untaken roads so to say. If only I had a second life like the cats, go back from the beginning and each time an important decision had to be made I would take the 'other' one.

Well, one more life would not be enough as most of the choices made lead to other choices which would not have been available otherwise, etc. Therefore, there is a multitude of lives out there which could never be checked against some criteria, for example happiness.

The only practical conclusion is that one should not regret that much the decisions taken. There certainly are choices that cannot be undone and that is a bit tough. However, other choices take us to yet more interesting places in life geography and we are actually at constant crossroads.

The crossroads are so numerous that basically there are no two lives that are identical as mathematically it wouldn't be possible that two people live in identical circumstances and take exactly the same decisions at every crossroad. That is, our lives are unique. Yet, I was missing a second uniqueness the other day....

Road at Chantilly, Paul Cezanne

The Road Not Taken

(Robert Frost)

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


Dumdad said...

Thoughtful post and how true. And a great poem.

Perhaps, though, there are a myriad parallel universes where we take different turns and our lives turn out differently?

But, for now, I live in this universe and I have made decisions that were no doubt dubious at best! But I don't spend time saying to myself "I wish I'd done that instead..." Thereby leads unhappiness!

julochka said...

i used to have that poem hanging on the wall by my desk. but then i moved the desk upstairs and it never made it back up, but it's a good one and your musings do it justice as well.

have you seen sliding doors it's one of the few good movies gwenyth paltrow has done and it's about exactly this.

Ruslan said...

Dumdad, you are totally right: we would go mad if we question decisions. I am a bit curious sometimes how it would have been if...

Julochka, I have seen Sliding Doors: it is about that indeed. You know how I discovered Robert Frost? He is one of favourite poet of Brodksy's whom you certainly know.