The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
Sometimes, there are moments when life seems to be giving you some kind of message. When more than one unrelated person uses the same phrase or begins the same conversation. Intuition, instinct, fate, higher power, coincidence…who knows. But I think it’s important to listen. The phrase ‘the road less travelled’ has come up a lot recently, and reminded me of Robert Frost’s words, which I have loved for a long time. And I realised their relevance to me has never been greater than it is now.
I’ve not written a post on this blog for a while, though you can read some of my thoughts on vampires and lesbians over at the Girls Who Bite blog. This wonderful anthology of lesbian vampire erotica from Cleis Press, containing my subtly erotic ‘She Knows I Am Watching’ about a New World vampire in Oxford, is released in a few days. An exciting reminder that, whatever else I’ve been doing, I am still a writer.
I haven’t blogged on here for a while because, I guess, I feel like I’m lingering at some kind of crossroads, and it’s not really the place for sitting down with my laptop and explaining my thoughts. There’s not just two roads diverging ahead of me. There’s several. There’s also the path stretching out behind me.
I’ve been gazing backwards quite a lot lately. Going through boxes of long-stored artefacts of my childhood and looking into the eyes of my six year old, ten year old and teenage self in photographs that look surprisingly dated. Those moments are a long way back down the path behind me, however well I remember them. I’m nearly thirty. Properly grown up and everything.
And yet, part of me has been lingering on that pathway. It’s not been a sunshiny, leafy road and there are points where I’ve tripped, fallen, and been chased by monsters. But somehow I’d wandered onto a path with no junctions, no offshoots. I just had to keep going and there didn’t seem to be anywhere to turn. And because I didn’t stray, it became familiar to me. Not safe, perhaps, but known. And by retracing my footsteps, I knew I could always get back to the little girl at the start of the journey.
Of course, eventually, I reached this crossroads. I’d been searching for it, and, as if by magic, suddenly here I was. And the roads ahead looked scary and unfamiliar. Looking backwards seemed to be the best way to keep hold of myself, as though part of me was always going to be on that road behind me. Surely I was defined by the path I’d already taken…
But, in looking back, I realised something. I’m here. I’m at the crossroads. I’m not still on that path. I can look back down it and remember what it was like, but I reached the crossroads, I made it to this point. And I can rest here a while, whole and complete, and contemplate a while. There is time to question. I’m not on my own here either. I have friends, people who care, people to help me. That’s a huge improvement on that lonely old path.
I’m looking at the roads ahead. The one which is well-worn is very obvious to me. But I don’t want to travel the same way as everyone else. It’s no fun, for a start. Plus, I don’t think I could. I’d feel lost, and finding my way by following the crowd is not something I’m comfortable with.
So I have to choose another road. Looking along some of them, I can see where they might lead, but I’m not sure. There might be unexpected twists and more junctions. I have to decide, because I can’t take all of those roads. It’s a decision with a lot of responsibility, but I will be brave. I might even head out across the untamed land and make a path of my own. I have visions of wild flower meadows, shadowy woodlands, blue skies and dramatic storms; moments of peril and moments of breathtaking beauty. There will be hope, faith and love, just as there are dangers and doubts. I don’t know where the road leads. But I’ll be the one painting the signposts and deciding which way to turn next.
Because, I no longer believe you’re defined by the road you’ve already taken to get to where you are. I believe you’re defined by the road you choose into the future.