Sunday, December 12, 2010

Existentialism & the Roads Not Yet Taken

The longer I stay here the more isolated I become. I'm not sure whether this is a phase I'm going through or if my attitude is a barometer for some other under-the-surface issue I may be having. I find that I can't express my feelings to anyone, not because they wouldn't understand but because I'm afraid of being judged.
The other day in class my instructor asked what I studied in college. I told him Religion and Creative Writing. He asked what religion if any specific one did I study and I told him I learned about quite a few. I began rattling off some and the tone of my voice instantly changed, I was excited to tell someone about them. I missed it. I missed learning about people, their idiosyncrasies, what made them no less different from me.
Then later that day I telephone my best friend and she wants to know what I've been learning, and so I start telling her about media exploitation and pulling information from a hard drive and how it's done and I could sense an excitement in my voice similar to when I was explaining about my religion courses. The thing about what I'm learning now though is I'm not that good at it, I sense it from my instructors and it trickles down to me.
Although my grades are fairly good and I want to do well and I believe I'm doing my best, something about this work eludes me; and I feel it's the human element. I am a person who is looking to make an impact, however small or large, in the lives of people. I want to know that everything I'm doing can be related to man's struggle for better understanding and life more abundant. What is the use of technology that cannot do that? I don't want to seem like an idealist but perhaps at heart that's what I am. I wonder about the path I've chosen and the ever-pertinent yet hackneyed poem by Robert Frost, "The Road Not Taken." The poem is essentially an existential quandary for the speaker, "Yet knowing how way leads on to way / I doubted if I should ever come back." The speaker brooding over which path to take tries to rationalize that since the path is not going anywhere he is more than able to come back and travel down the other some other time but he admits to himself that no; perhaps, he would not ever come back to this particular junction again. How does way lead to other ways? How does choosing this path, forever exclude the other? I've tried to tell myself that yes, I can do it all. I can be in the military and I can go back to graduate school and have both experiences be mine, after all, so many others have done it. But I feel in myself a conflict of these two experiences, why, I'm not sure. I wonder everyday if I made the wrong decision, if my reason for doing one isn't being muddled in the experiences of the other.
What I do know is I have faith in my abilities, no, my gifts. I believe the joy that I get from writing and studying other people is a gift, one that I owe it to myself to pursue. I have faith in my capability to learn new things, whatever they are, despite my particular interest in them. I will not be overcome by some primeval thought that fate has fixed me and set me on its own path. Years from now, I will not recollect this story with a sigh, but will recall how I traveled two conflicting paths and that has made all the difference in the woman I was to become.

THE ROAD NOT TAKEN
Robert Frost

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.

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