The film Dead Poets Society employs a poem of Robert Frost’s and an essay by Henry David Thoreau.
Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” is really not so much a poem about the non-conformity of choosing a less-traveled road as it is about the chooser’s attitude towards the road taken. The roads are equal — Frost makes that point three times; the travelers, us, bestow the unique, non-conformist value on the road, the direction we choose to travel and the lives we experience. Motive gives purpose and value that only the individual can look back on and be satisfied with. The non-conformity is in making our choice rather than letting others choose for us.
That brings us to Thoreau’s famous quote from Walden: “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Then, the not so well-known following sentence: “What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.” Boom! Get it? How many people just resign themselves to the fact that there are no other choices: “Gotta make a living.” “What choice do I have?” “I don’t like it, but I’m not the boss.” Translation? I have no hope.
News: you don’t have to accept any of that. Reality: If you change it, you have to work your mind and ass off. Reward: you live with enthusiasm, positivity, the ability to face and overcome challenges, and the blessings of significance, self-awareness, and love (and a whole lot of other great benefits).
I know the questions that I have heard and could ask you. Things like How would it feel to get up in the morning with excitement? Blah, blah, blah. Such questions are valuable, but until you make an intentional choice to live your heart, you cannot fathom how those questions could be answered. So, begin with the choice, as Thoreau stated in the same work, “…to live deliberately.”
Deliberate with your heart. Know yourself. Know that you choose purpose and vision for yourself. No matter what stage of life you are in, if you are resigned to the impossibility of deliberate choice to learn yourself, determine your purpose, and create your vision, you have lost hope.
Listen to a bit more of Thoreau: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately…and see…what [life] had to teach. I did not wish to live what was not life….I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life…” What is the cost of resignation? Thoreau knew that he might get to the end of his life and “discover that I had not lived.”
Are you moving down the road you have designed? Do you value that road as one of significance and satisfaction? If not, I’m willing to bet that you are questioning who you really are, why you are here, and why you have no choice. Accept it, and then change it. If you say, “I can’t. I’m stuck,” then you just confirmed your desperation.
How does that feel? If you want to feel differently, you know what to do. Resign the resignation.
What have you deliberately chosen? It’s not a one time deal, you know. If you discover that the the road you are traveling is no longer yours because there is no joy, no sense of You, no sense of purpose, and no vision for anything beyond the workday, then maybe it’s time to speak to your heart, make some choices, and build a road of significance and satisfaction for You to take.
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Questions to consider:
How many times have you asked yourself or simply thought about the following questions?
Who am I, really?
What is my truth?
How do my actions reveal what I really feel and believe?
What would I do with my life if I could do anything?
What is my passion?
Why am I here?
How can I discover answers to any of these questions?
If you have considered any of these questions, I hope that my experiences and writing will give you some guidance. Please read my blog and comment and share your thoughts. I would love to hear from you!