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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Road Less Traveled

For the past few weeks, I have witnessed a very sad and troubling series of events that have left me disappointed and dishearten. I cannot help but remember Robert Frost's poem The Road Not Taken every time I think about these events.

I have assumed, perhaps because I am too naive, that all parents want their children to be great, special and decent and that in the end we want them to be "winners." These are the children who will one day become the men and women who run our government, file our taxes, or prescribe our medication when we are ill.

As a parent I want my boys to speak up with respect, ask questions when unsure and always perform their best at whatever they do. I constantly remind them that good is not good enough...that great is better. Then when they can't deliver great but instead deliver good, we have that heart to heart conversation and they understand. Even though my expectations are high and they can't always deliver, mom and dad love them very much no matter what. Funny, but they work so hard to be "great" because they know it is expected in our home.

We want them to have dignity and integrity and when they commit to a project they must fulfill their obligations. Period. Losing is not welcomed in our home. We do not think this way; we do not work this way, and we do not live this way. And no... that does not mean we do not lose at times. I have failed, my husband has failed and everyone around has failed. What it does mean is that we do not embrace failure, accept it and go out and look for it. However, in recent days I have witnessed a group of adults embrace failure with such ease. It was as if they loved having was just alright to lose, to not do the job right, ok to walk away when things got too tough and so on and so on. This acceptance or apathy confuses me because I see how these children, the ones who belong to the adults I speak of, react to what they see before their very eyes.

These adults model a behavior and attitude that simply says to their child, I care for nothing, need nothing and want nothing and I will settle for whatever scraps or leftovers life throws at me. I have no aspirations, no desires, no need for many friends or large amounts of money. I will take whatever I can get as long as I do not have to work too hard for it. My God...what are they thinking? Or, what am I thinking?

What will happen to our children, when they grow. Who will they be? What will they be? Does anyone ever ask that question? I do not want to create a world of losers... I want it all easy, give me something, anything just don't make it so difficult because if I can't get it right the first time then I am running as fast as I can kind of person. It is so much easier to take the easy road, the quick and fast route that may lead to no where. How many people out there still thirst for the adventure of overcoming obstacles and achieving victory after having fought a good fight? Where are the leaders of tomorrow that will think, analyze, collaborate and innovate? The world needs men and women who will conduct dedicated and thorough searches in their quest for answers. We will need critical minds and courageous souls to undertake the challenges in the future.

And so I ask myself...what road shall my boys take when they get to that yellow wood. Will they take the one that is grassy and needs wear or will they choose the other? I want to believe they will choose well, but wonder what will the others chose, the ones who have been taught to dream not, to live small and think small. Those who believe they should wait for opportunity to come to them and "give" them what they need are sadly trotting down a sad and empty road. The ones who believe in opportunity, seek it out and challenge themselves in the end find great satisfaction in whatever they achieve. As they journey through life, what will they find or what will they create for themselves...victory or defeat?

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


  1. I've been waiting for Robert. Those kids are still out there. Where I live many times people don't "try." I see kids w/o parents that are 4 and younger playing on the street. At one point I grabbed an unsupervised 2 year old away from a drain. Then, sent him inside. I try to raise my kids to be empathetic toward others "Don't judge a man until you walk a mile in his moccasins." Sometimes I think it's depression that brings this attitude from the parents and kids. I don't understand it. But where I live I'm faced with it every day.

  2. Proofpositivity
    What you say is true, but I know how you struggle to better your life and your children's life. You display qualities of a mom who wants her children to do great and be great. I know because you write about it all the time. Your courage and dedication impact your children everyday and one day they will appreciate all that you have taught them, all that you have done for them. You want something better for them just as I do for mine.

  3. I sometimes think I'm lucky having two daughters (the ones in our family). Between 5 and 17 they were with me in the same schools, then attended Universities. Eldest one got a scholarship "CURIE'S" and now she's living abroad for Phd. Parents always want better for them.

  4. I just love a road less traveled! It will surely have a lot more bumps and a large ditch washed across that you will have to figure out how to get across. More thinking will be involved to get where you are going, but the ride will be great and breath taking views will be a guarantee.
    I admire your attitude with your sons. I am sure they will grow up to be fine young men.
    I also appreciate your comments left at my blog. I means a lot. Thanks.

  5. Such a beautiful post. I can relate to the inspiration you instill in your boys. Although not a mom, I love children. AndI muself was given some amazing gifts. My even went so far as to get rid of our TV when I was very little and he took all six of his children into nature. He took us canoeing, camping, hiking, skiing, swimming, etc. It influenced all of our lives. Both my parents were free thinkers and even visionaries. My father especially beieved in the road less traveled. All of these things have made a huge difference for me. My 54 years on planet Earth have been a rich, visceral journey full of exploration and learning.

    I grieve deeply when I see children abandoned on the street or abandoned in front of the TV for hours on end. Their poor little hearts, minds and souls neglected. In light of that bless you for embracing your children and consciosly setting a healthy, positive example.

  6. I bet those outings with your family were special, very special. I know the times I spend with my family fishing, hiking or just talking are priceless moments for me. I will never have those moments again...never. You get one chance at being a kid and one chance at being an adult. I just pray the Lord helps me to make wise choices.

    And...fortunate are those who are living "a rich, visceral journey full of exploration and learning." :) Take care my friend.

  7. What you said made a lot of sense. I learned a lot from reading this wonderful article of yours. My favorite part of it is when you mention that great is better than good and you boys should always deliver as great but even though they can't always leave up to the expectation, you always strive to be the best
    Name:Gerald Etienne

  8. Hello. I too have noticed the growing apathy within our society. I have been watching it fester over the course of about 20 years to the point where it has impacted, it seems, just about all of my oldest daughters generation. In my honest opinion, I feel that it has been fostered by the corporate driven system that plagues our country. It has left my generation feeling powerless, undervalued and generally as discardable as a bic razor. We have watched the corporations whittle away at everything our parents generation worked for. We are still witnessing the erosion of the middle class and are facing the likelihood of a drawnout recession that will place vast amounts of people into poverty.

    I feel the anger and powerlessness that my genration has been exhibiting has been instilled into their children and so we are left with a generation who does not want to try or care to try because they feel it is fruitless to do so. This is only perpetuated by a government that readily and increasingly gives handouts to those individuals who have settled into this lifestyle. That is not to say that there are not people who work hard and still can not provide adequately for their families. Those people surely deserve some support to help them weather through their bad times. I am speaking of generations of families who now rely solely on wellfare and believe it is a legitimate and acceptable lifestyle.

    It boils down to cause and effect though. The more jobs that are piped out of our country and the more our wages are slashed as the cost of living increases simultaneously, the more disgruntled, disheartened and disillusioned our society will become. If Walmartism continues to spread throughout the country, wiping out local mom and pop shops and paying workers minimum wages than we will continue to suffer this plague. If our manufacturing base continues to be piped overseas and our unions are busted than this scourge will continue. If our government remains interwoven with the corporations than we will be subject to the fascism that hungrily devours the American dream.

    15 years ago, if I were to mention what I noticed taking place, My friends would say I was a conspiracy theorist. As the years went by though and as more of my friends and family filed bankruptcy, lost their homes and found themselves stuck in poor paying jobs with no real form of advancement, they all seem to complain about the same things I use to complain were taking place. It seems there is a general consensus now that our government is failing us and that we need a positive change. I don't mean the type of rhetorical change that some of the popular candidates are servicing us. When I speak of change I mean a real, fundamental change in our governments practices and policies. I feel the only way to correct our government and place it back on a path that would be "for the people" is to create a clear seperation of corporation and state just as there is a clear seperaion of church and state. I believe if we had a system that was clearly working towards the best interests of the people and not the corporations than we would have a renewed sense of worth as individuals. A government for the people would create a higher standard of living for its working class and instill in them a sense of worth and provide them with the insentive to dream again and to accomplish something more with their lives.

    I have always stuck to the persuit of my dreams even though I have not been able to accomplish them, I will continue to persue them never the less. I too have tried to teach this work ethic to my children, but need only spend a short amount of time in a school setting to see that his is not the norm. It is also not the type of talk you hear around the water cooler at work. I think it is wonderful that you are trying to instill this philosophy into your children and as an educator of others children.

    Sometime ago I wrote a poem that touched on something Langston Hughes had written about. It is about the dream or idea we all have of ourselves when we are young and what often happens to that dream as we get older.

    Languishing Hues of White
    By J. L. Carey Jr.

    Frozen in the bleak field
    Lay that broken-winged bird,
    Careless were passers by
    Who did not see the loss,
    Dreamers once, but no more,
    Too busy to notice
    The cold and hollow fowl
    Resting in Pluto’s arms.

    No black veiled mourner wept,
    Nor funeral bells rang
    Or last rights given this
    Deadened surreality,
    Which fell into static,
    An inaudible snow,
    Like a television
    With a crippled tuner.

  9. I agree with this piece you have written, it is so true;therefore, when we try something and its an unsucessful task, we must try again until we have accomplished it. No one said anything life throws at you was & is going to be easy...,But we must overstep our expectations and NOT accept "ok", or "I'm satified" because we would be taking the easy road out ... Go for hard and don't take the easy ... We won't accomplish what obstacles we are prsented with in life! Being a Winner is the option in my vocabulary too,definately not ok or loser! I totally agree with you !

  10. It is honorable to engage onself for a youth that lives up to the highest expectations.
    On the other hand, there is always a zeitgeist, which might come across as a behaviour model and spoil our good intentions.

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  12. Professor Cueto I admire you for the kind of person that you are. You are the epitome of the perfect mother and the perfect teacher. I hope one day to be as great as you are as a teacher and a mother.
    I do want the best for my kids too, and we have to do something now for the world of tomorrow.What are we going to expect in the future if the world is not fixed pronto?As parents that we are we need to be role models for our kids and azume our responsability, both, either young or old parents.
    Thank you very much for being the person that you are.
    Geisa Gonzalez.

  13. The primary education for any child is the empowerment and ability to choose and decide freely - the knowledge that one is a person of boundless power and energy. Everything else, history, geography, language, math, science come next. Without the first any other cramming of information will be a soulless effort that raise blocks of matter than children.

  14. The Road Not Taken is one of my favorite poems. Its reading can often provoke thought on many different topics and levels.

  15. Just be careful in what standards you are applying when deciding whether something "delivered" is just "good" or indeed "great".

    The greatest things are sometimes the most hard to discover.

  16. Cogswell, Miracle, Gerald, Geisa, Swahilya, Ray and Jessica...thank you for taking the time to read and add your comments. Your words speak for themselves.

    However I do want to say I am trying hard to keep the zeitgeists away while at the same time promoting the belief of boundless power in ourselves.

  17. AVC Thank you for your comments.

    Please know that I value all gifts large and small, for as you say sometimes the greatest things are the hardest to discover. I refer not to those gifts that can be measured, but to the human spirit. What I reject is the thought, the notion that we are worthy of little and that others are worthy of more. I value greatness in the purest sense of the word.

  18. I've watched my children grow and become three of the most interesting people I know. I think it helps that I did concern myself with their futures and always saw them as mini-people instead of my property.

  19. When the big Teachers survey of 1940 showed the 3 worst gripes of Teachers that year were: 1) Kids running in the halls...2) Talking in class...3) Chewing gum in class--well, that spelled out a comfortable, pleasing growth environment--filled with promise-- as far as I was concerned. In 1990, 50 years later, when the same poll was taken, and the results turned out to be: 1) Teen-age pregnancy. 2) Deadly weapons (guns and knives) in school. 3. Drugs--well, what can you say other than an alarm bell is going off very loudly, crying out to us with the burning question, what went wrong?

    I have a theory: It being that it's the methodical emergence of drugs in our society over the past 60 or so years--with acceleration since the middle 1960s--that is the primary culprit. Have nothing concrete to back this up--just a theory.

    (An aside note: I still think your dog post is one of the best I've ever seen. Your passion runneth over.)

  20. Excellent post. I feel sorry for kids today... a lot of grown folks too. The quest for money so often leads the way and though the quest is not so much the problem, it is that they want the easy way to it which is rarely the right way. Are we looking at a future where the road less traveled is the moral, ethical way?


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