The new year is an invitation to assess what’s working, and what’s not. But for every new direction you commit to, there’s the road not taken – and the thorny problem of being happy with the choice you make.
Robert Frost’s famous poem on this theme (‘The Road Not Taken‘) dramatises this moment of choice and, according to comments made by the author at the Bread Loaf Writers Conference in 1953, was inspired by
“a friend who had gone off to war, a person who, whichever road he went, would be sorry he didn’t go the other. He was hard on himself that way.”
‘The Road Not Taken‘ was first published in Frost’s collection Mountain Interval in 1916, almost perfectly midway between publication of ‘Swann’s Way’ (Du côté de chez Swann, 1913) and the first part of ‘The Guermantes Way ‘ (La côté de Guermantes’, 1920), of Proust’s ‘A La Recherche du Temps Perdu’:
For there were, in the environs of Combray, two “ways” which we used to take for our walks, and they were so diametrically opposed that we would actually leave the house by a different door according to the way we had chosen…
(Scott Moncrieff, Terence Kilmartin translation)
The great reading journey, in search of lost time, that I plan to take again in 2011.