I think we all agree that life is extra stressful these days. Besides our daily grind of paying bills, family and work commitments (whatever those look like), there’s the massive inconvenience and/or life shake up courtesy of the global pandemic to deal with.
Let’s face it: Whatever life looked like before, ever since the virus arrived it feels more like Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates; we never know what we’re gonna get. While feelings of anxiety and uncertainty are plentiful, they are also completely understandable and warranted; and why not?
Overnight, people lost their jobs, students couldn’t attend classes, restaurants and stores locked their doors, and people were asked to stick within their designated “bubbles” – whatever that meant. As we stayed home, waiting with bated breath for whatever came next, everybody’s routines came to a grinding halt.
Unable to go anywhere or see anyone, people suddenly found themselves with extra time on their hands; so much so that many of us didn’t know how to fill the vacuum. But here’s the thing: Whether we realize it or not, by looking at the situation through a different lens we can see this “found time” as an opportunity, similar to the one in “The Road Not Taken” by Robert Frost.
Frost writes that whilst on a journey in the woods, he came upon a fork in the path. One direction was worn and downtrodden, the other overgrown and rarely used. He decides to take “the one less travelled”, in order to seek out something unfamiliar, and new. By the end of the poem, he concludes it was this choice that“made all the difference” for him.
This statement raises two questions: What exactly is this difference Frost speaks of, and how does his message help us find opportunities during these challenging times?
In my mind, choosing “the road less travelled” means whenever we are faced with a choice, it can be most rewarding to choose the unfamiliar way. Maybe it’s been:
- When at a favourite restaurant, trying a new dish rather than ordering the usual
- Asking your stylist for a bold, new look instead of the same old hairstyle
- Rather than taking a cushy resort or cruise vacation, go on an adventure holiday
The road less travelled is all about the journey, not the destination. It’s taking an unfamiliar route in order to making an investment in ourselves by understanding both it, and us better. It’s shaking things up and breaching our comfort zones (even just a bit) in exchange for the promise of a better experience both today, and in the future.
What I’m suggesting is rather than spending the pandemic doing the same things we’ve always done (in our more limited spare time), why not take the road less travelled by learning a new skill, developing a healthy habit (or two), or maybe to study a topic you’ve always wanted to, but could not find the time? Why not invest this extra time today to create a better tomorrow for you (and maybe even your family)?
Know that if you did, you wouldn’t be venturing down this road alone; in fact, many people are already successfully used this time to start businesses, strengthen family relationships, be creative with their art, get fit and healthy, etc. One couple I know has spent the past year teaching themselves sign language from You Tube videos so when they are finally able to travel, they’ll surprise his deaf mother by “speaking her language”. Amazing!
Yes, the pandemic sucks. We all know this. However, it has also provided many of us with a lot of free time; but it is up to US how we CHOOSE to spend that time. If we do nothing, then nothing will change for us. However, if we take the opportunities offered by the road less travelled by trying new things, no telling what kind of people (educated, skilled, fit, healthy, loving, kinder, compassionate, understanding, etc.) we may become because of our efforts.
Choose wisely, and when things eventually get back to normal (and they will), the meaning of:
“Two roads diverged in the wood and I-
I took the one less travelled by,
And it made all the difference”
will have an entirely different (and wonderful) meaning than if you do nothing at all.
Author Bio: David Knapp-Fisher
As founder of The Inspired Humans Project, David loves sharing inspirational stories. His TEDx talk, “Discipline or Regret, a Father’s Decision” been viewed over 100,000 times, and his first book, “Punch Failure in The Face, Then Buy It a Beer” has 36 five star reviews on amazon.ca.
David lives in Victoria B.C. where he spends most of his time trying (& usually failing) to stump his son with movie trivia, or planning his next big adventure; both while drinking great coffee, of course.