Sunday, February 21, 2010

The Road Not Taken


TWO roads diverged 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.

Robert Robert Frost (1874–1963). Mountain Interval. 1920.


Good morning.

I thought of this poem yesterday morning, as I took Sox for a run on our way home from town. As I often do, I took the "long way around", heading for a road of minimal use, one of Sox's favorite places to run. This little road runs along a section line, with herds of cattle on both sides, and a single house about a mile in. It's a pretty little road, about 2 miles long, and connects at the west end with our usual route home. At this time of year it is occasionally impassible because of drifting snow. Sox loves it because the tree groves and bushes are full of deer, rabbits, and pheasants, giving him the opportunity for a great chase. He's yet to catch anything, but that never stops him from trying.

I was pleased to see a path just wide enough for single lane traffic had been plowed through the snow. I let Sox out, and watched him head down the road with confidence in his step and joy in his heart. He loves to run, and knows our routine.

I paused for a minute to enjoy the beautiful image, and thought, "Two road diverged in a wood, and I- I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference."

Pause a moment.... Re-read the poem above. Savor the image, implant it in your psyche, let it sink into your soul.
I need to take this message to heart. We all make decisions for a variety of reasons, and at times I can consider and reconsider options to the point of obsession. I want to do what's "right", what's "safe", what's "fair", and I try to predict or control the outcome of most everything that's really important to me.

Far from a free spirit, or non-conformist, I think I commonly take the "road most traveled by", due to fear of the unknown.

However, some of the best decisions I've ever made were when I followed my heart, and not my head. Especially creative, or artistic decisions.

Traditional quilt making is very structured, well thought out, carefully planned and measured. Quilters often know what their quilt is going to look like before they sew the first stitch. For many, that is part of the appeal. Safe, organized, mathematical, and methodical.

But, my "right-brained quilting friends" (Rose & Kari come to mind, among many others) make inspired and beautiful quilts in a much different fashion. Sure, they have a plan. But, plans can change. Often mid-stream. Their creations are stunning, energetic, vivid, and breathtakingly beautiful. Unique expressions of their individuality... quilts that stand out in a crowd, not because they are odd or garish, but because they are like no other, and yet they are perfect.

I'm not planning an overnight transformation of my quilting style. I still need to make planned quilts, and I do truly love traditional piecing and find comfort in my methodical approach.

But, now and then, I need to "Take the Quilting Road Less Traveled By".... learn new techniques, use colors that are out of my comfort zone, and create something unique. The risk is really minimal. And the reward... unknown. Only time will tell.