We sang this song in High School choir. Though I remember it being substantially more discordant, I fell in love with the song and Robert Frost. Sadly, I also found, in searching for the song, that I don’t remember most of the poem. All these years I thought the only words were….
Miles and miles to go before I sleep.
I’ve found myself singing them over and over. Obviously, they resonated with a part of my being. For those who don’t know the poem, or like me, don’t remember, here it is.
Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening
by Robert Frost
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
The last stanza still sticks to my memories. Perhaps that is how we all feel when we stop to take in a sight of beauty. How lovely it would be to stop and revel. But we have many promises to keep. And miles to go before we sleep. If I live to a hundred, I only have 65 years left. Not nearly enough time. That became glaringly evident when I received news this week that I would not be attending college this fall and would have to postpone until the Spring semester of 2013.
Really? My destiny is waiting! What if it grows impatient and runs off with someone else?
I’m no stranger to obstacles. I could fill an entire book. War and Peace. New York City phone book sized. I know obstacles. Furthermore, I’m not ashamed to admit that they knock me down, at least for a few days. I get weepy and disillusioned. I convince myself that I might as well give up now and adjust for a life with a 1980’s television and a pink house coat with yellow flowers. Get out the curlers and start drinking beer at ten in the morning with a full pack of menthols. Stand on the front porch and scream at youth passing by because I know what life is really about. Why are you so happy, little girl? You just watch and see. A house coat is in your future too.
That’s the problem with being a writer. We have this thing called imagination. It’s a blessing when we are using it to create a world of fictional characters. But when we create a world based on our own self-doubt and dismal future, it’s down right dangerous. I’m not sure if any other profession can imagine failure quite like a writer can.
Thank goodness, it only lasts a few days, if we’re lucky. This was a quick one. Six months in the grand scheme of 65 years isn’t THAT horrible. For the most part. The snow may get deep, but I have miles to go before I sleep.
Thus I begin again with a different plan of action that is so similar to the one I’ve been following. Write. Write. And then write some more. I’ve started a new-old novel. One that I began twelve years ago after my son was born. I wasn’t ready to write then. I wasn’t ready to write a novel from six or seven different view points. But I’m ready and have plenty of time over the next six months to face the challenge.
I have a new view of obstacles. Imagine a corn maze. The corn is the obstacles. Without the corn, one wouldn’t know where to go. The path wouldn’t be clear. Without obstacles, we wouldn’t have a path to follow.
So, I follow the path laid by the obstacles dropped before me and I am thankful for them. It’s my path and it may seem a little battered, but it’s better than wandering lost in the badlands. Or desert. Or prairie. Which ever analogy you wish to use.
The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost
Two roads diverge 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.
It will make all the difference. Because I have miles and miles to go.