The Beauty of the Road Less Traveled

Quiet Palm Boulevard

One rainy Sunday, we drove to the Isle of Palms to visit friends. After we arrived and caught up for a bit, it was time for lunch. Despite the drizzle, a few of us decided to walk to a nearby restaurant; the rest hopped in the car.

My son had his own means of transportation—a shiny, gold Hoverboard. He stepped on and off he went, and—doing what I do—I pulled out my phone and snapped a photo. I’m always looking for moments like these and trying to capture them before they disappear.

Later, as I studied the image of him riding solo and gliding down a quiet street that’s typically packed with beach-goers and traffic, my mind traveled back to when I was 28 years old, another lifetime, when the moving truck was packed to the edges, and I was about to drive that big, heavy load across the country. My initial excitement had evolved into great sadness because I was saying goodbye to so many things at once—my home, my career, my friends—and traveling towards something new.

Before I left, a friend I’ve known since childhood gave me a letter.

In it she referenced Robert Frost’s famous poem “The Road Not Taken” and the line I know by heart:

Two roads diverged in a wood,
and I— I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

In the letter my wise friend wrote, “This line leads people to believe that there was one right path… and that Robert Frost found it, made the right decision, etc. But this isn’t really what Frost is saying at all. It only ‘made all the difference’ because that’s the one he chose. The whole poem is really about his sadness over the fact that he couldn’t travel both roads, and ‘be the same traveler.'”

That, in essence, was how I felt. Wanting to travel both roads, but realizing that I could not. The choice was made, and it was time to go.

In hindsight, that move was the beginning of a big unraveling in my life, a time when all of my big dreams and plans began to come undone. During that long, cross-country drive, I spent hours and hours each day alone. And during that time, in the midst of all of the uncertainty, I had flashes of clarity and moments of peace.

And that has made all the difference.

Looking back, I can see how much I needed that time to separate from the noise, get reacquainted with myself, and remember the sound of my own inner voice.

I recently stumbled across this article that talks about the psychological and therapeutic benefits of solitude. When we temporarily remove ourselves from the social context of our lives, we can see how it influences and shapes us. We gain valuable perspective.

How long you need to be alone to experience the benefits of solitude really depends on you. Perhaps you’re more like Cheryl Strayed, who chose an intense, solo hike along the Pacific Crest Trail.

Or maybe a pair of headphones and a quick run will do the trick.

I personally don’t think we’re meant to travel this life alone, and the experts don’t think so either. But we all need to take a detour every once in a while. The busy roads and the less traveled ones—they all work together and connect, I think.

Robert Frost was right, we can’t travel both roads at once. So, these days, when I find myself on the less traveled path, whether by circumstance or choice, I try to see it as an opportunity to fine-tune my inner compass. A chance to sharpen my senses so I can feel my way through life. 

One moment at a time.

Angie Mizzell is a writer, TV spokesperson, and mom of three. She is also the co-founder of Charleston Storytellers and blogs about creating a life...

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10 thoughts on “The Beauty of the Road Less Traveled

  1. Hi Angie-Thanks for writing the intro you did after yesterday’s events. We can’t treat this as acceptable in the normal activities of life. We have to allow ourselves to feel it on an emotional level. And that is what your writing is about. Thank you, Debra

  2. Angie, thank you for this lovely piece, and the reminder of how much we gain when we step away and spend time in the “home” of ourselves. Even on a day that comes after another tragedy.

  3. Oh how beautiful, Angie! I needed your words today. I am so glad that I came across that interview of you in Skirt! Mag recently. It sounds like you have 3 lucky boys who have a such a strong, insightful and wise boss mom!

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