This I Believe

Timoth - Kansas City, Missouri
Entered on December 7, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe sometimes we, as human beings, get so carried away in our everyday lives, that we do not take time to make sure we are making the right decisions. Our lives happen at such a hectic pace that we never really get a chance to stop and reflect on our decisions. We go about our business, constantly making decisions that will shape our lives in big and little ways, yet how often do we actually analyze our decisions before making them. In this fast-paced world, if you do not keep up with society, society will leave you behind. It’s unfortunate that our lives cannot imitate the ideals expressed in literature… but imagine what it would be like if we lived in that fictional world.

Why can’t life be like a Robert Frost poem? In The Road Not Taken, the unnamed character (presumably Robert Frost himself) faces a decision of which road to take while traveling in the woods. Frost’s character is much like us because he must make choices that will affect the outcome of his life. We make these choices everyday; however, Robert Frost has the awareness to stop and use critical thinking skills to make the decision that will result in the best outcome not only for his immediate future, but for the rest of his life as well.

After much deliberation, Frost realizes that neither road shows favor over the other, and shows a good deal of indecision. In our world today, indecision is a great thing because it shows that we are thinking and not just going through the motions. Frost chooses one of the paths, and is aware at that point that he will never get to make this choice again. As the poem ends, Frost is retelling his story, now as an older (and presumably wiser) man. Years after he had made this relatively minor decision in his life, he still reflects upon it, wondering if he indeed made the right decision. Whether or not Frost made the right decision is irrelevant; what is important is the fact that Frost took time to reflect is what is key.

Perhaps we are incapable of taking time to reflect on our actions. After all, Frost wrote The Road Not Taken in 1916, a time when the world moved at a lot slower pace. I believe, however, that we are still capable of stopping and taking time to think before we act.

Recently I lost one of my favorite teachers from high school. This wonderful man meant so many things to so many people. I have millions of glorious memories of him, but one that I cherish dearly is a story that he used to tell us during class. The title of the story was The Carpenter’s Story, anonymously written (although he told it so many times we were convinced that he had pinned the short story himself). In this story, a carpenter decided to retire, but before he does his contractor asks him to build one more house. The carpenter does not have his heart into the building of this house and is simply going through the motions. When the house is completed, the contractor gives the keys of the house to the carpenter as a retirement present. “If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently. Now he had to live in the home he had built none too well.”

The Carpenter Story is a metaphor for our lives. The carpenter was not giving his best effort on the house. He built the house much like we live our lives: in a distracted way. He simply made decisions without thinking of the positives and negatives, and eventually it caught up with him. We are the carpenters of our own lives. Everyday we “hammer a nail, place a board, or erect a wall,” that builds the house in which we live. Whether we are performing simple tasks, such as hammering a nail, moderate tasks, such as placing a board, or large tasks, such as erecting a wall, we must realize that all these tasks have an effect on our lives. We must keep this in mind when we live our lives. Even the smallest tasks shape our lives, and who we are.