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 travelled by.

And that has made all the difference.”

 

Life offers choices. Often we do not know the importance of a choice at the time it appears. We simply make the choice and move forward. Later we may discover both the magnitude and unintended consequences of the choice.

 

In the spring of 1962 I was completing the sixth grade. I knew the coming year would be full of change as I was moving up to Junior High and all that entailed, so as I considered an opportunity to make an important choice about that year, I was more than a bit conflicted. Many of my classmates and I were offered the opportunity to take first year Spanish in the seventh grade. Normally this was only open to ninth graders, but some were afforded this early option. Most of my closest friends were also extended the opportunity so it made sense to go with the crowd.

 

One friend was crestfallen. He did not get the letter that extended the opportunity. I thought of him “going it alone” at the new school and decided that somebody needed to be there with him. All others had plenty of company, no need to worry about them. I made my choice. To this day I can still remember my internal conversation: “For his sake”.

When September arrived I found myself in a cohort of classmates I did not know. Interestingly, my previously rejected friend was offered my vacant seat and was sitting in the Spanish section with all my chums from my elementary years. I was now alone, a stranger in a strange land.

At the time, I was a bit overwhelmed. I decided I needed to look for kindred spirits and build relationships. I carefully studied my classmates for guys who just may be a bit like me. Van was obviously a good choice. He had a warm smile, he could do magic, he invented things and he liked shooting bow and arrow like me. Tom, the dairy farmer seemed to be well read. He had great enthusiasm for class participation – who doesn’t like that? Dave was quiet but he had a warm smile and a quirky sense of humor. Rich was even quieter but very smart and very kind. Wendell had a sense of humor and was always ready to do things friends do. These and other relationships were built over time but I noticed that as years passed some of my old friends from elementary days seemed unable to ever live beyond their old pals. They never had the opportunity I enjoyed to make friends from all over.

So the day I made the choice that seemed so wrong at first was a blessing in disguise. In trying to look out for my friend, I was given a gift of many friends that I never could have designed for myself. Oh, and by the way, I took Spanish for three years later on and did a much better job learning what later proved to be a valuable life skill. Some of the friendships made at that time endure today.