Friday, November 4, 2011

An Outsider Remembers a Road Less Traveled

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

- Robert Frost

In my life I've often opted for the less traveled road. Sometimes it got me in trouble. Other times it led to insight or innovation. When did this become a pattern for me? I'm not sure. But I have this memory...

Remote Alaskan mountains
It was 1966 and I had just completed my third year at West Point - more a journey of compliance than a "road less traveled by," for sure. Unless you count the times I walked punishment tours on weekends for violating one of the thousands of rules and regulations of that institution. I was a pretty good student, but I had "done time."

That summer I was visiting Alaska for a month while serving as an interim infantry platoon leader. One weekend I drove a car into the mountains. On an impulse, I turned off on an unpaved road, which after several miles ran out at the foot of a treeless mountainside. So I parked the car and went for a walk. But not on a path. And I didn't head for the peak, which is what most people do. Instead, I walked around the circumference. After about an hour, I found myself in a remote region. I looked around and saw nothing but snow-covered mountains and wilderness. It seemed to me extremely unlikely that anyone else would have come this way. In fact, it dawned on me that in this remote part of the planet I was probably the first person ever to stand on this particular piece of ground. The first human ever in 4.5 billion years. It was an exciting feeling.

I often have that feeling as I write a blog post. I have that feeling right now. I have that feeling a lot - the sense that I'm not "with it," that I'm an outsider, looking at my world as if I'm a stranger in a strange land.

Did my hike into the remote Alaskan wilderness inspire me to pursue more less traveled roads? It could have. It makes an interesting story anyway.

But maybe not. After all, something inside me on that day was already urging me to go where others hadn't gone before...

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2011. Building Personal Strength . (Permission to use photo purchased from fotolia.com)

4 comments:

Sarcastic Bastard said...

Thanks for sharing this story, Denny. I enjoyed reading it.

Anonymous said...

Denny

You write so well and have so many wonderful stories and ideas...it is a pleasure to read every one of them.

Nita

Anonymous said...

Denny

You write so well and have so many wonderful stories and ideas...it is a pleasure to read every one of them.

Nita

Kara Monterey said...

As someone who has also somehow made a "pattern" out of being on the outside I love this blog! There is just something so appealing to some of us about doing our own thing, even, perhaps especially, when it leads us to places and things few others have discovered.