Posted by: pursuingsub17 | March 22, 2016

Running alone on the road not taken

When I was a kid, my mom introduced me to the poetic world of Robert Frost. I was in a girls club (called Job’s Daughters – a young female offshoot of the Masons) and at the time I was elected Librarian, which entailed reading prose and poetry at every meeting.  Mom is a good writer, and has a strong appreciation for the classics. When I had no idea where to start looking for a good poem to recite, she told me to about one of her favorite Frost poems. It was called Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening. I remember being able to picture the scene in my head, hearing a gentle wind through the trees and seeing the gentle snowfall. It reminded me of the woods our house backed onto and how much I loved cross country skiing by myself through the pine and poplar trees along the snowmobile trails. I decided this would be my first poem to read as the official Librarian that year – thought it was peaceful and a pretty cool poem to share at our meeting. If it touched any of the other girls present at the meeting in any way, I have no idea. I just know that the poem elicited a beautiful vision in my head.

What I hadn’t realized was what it meant to me on a deeper level. Over the years, I realized that this was my first insight into myself – my love of things peaceful, quiet and introverted vs. the loud, hectic buzz of an extroverted society.

Ironically, that same year, my high school English teacher assigned us a project; pick one of 5 poems, analyse what it meant to us personally, and write our own poem using the same title. Again, Robert Frost was able to voice what I couldn’t to others verbally. That poem was The Road Not Taken. To me, it meant choosing my own path without the influence of others – doing something against the grain, against the standard set by society, and not feeling my decision was wrong.

Life is like a poem – subjective. We are all different for different reasons with different needs and goals. The key is to understand yourself, accept that this is who you are, and seek out what best caters to your personality type as well as your spiritual and physical needs.

That’s why I think about these two poems whenever I’m out on a run or a bike ride on my own and wondering if maybe I would be better off to train 7 days a week with a group. Then I see a trail that I’ve never taken before, maybe one that the City just cut along the river valley, and I remember why I’m out here and what those poems meant to me. While I definitely get the need and the benefits to train in a group (especially for newbies who can gain so much from training with others), I know this isn’t always the case for me because my needs are different. Being an introvert, and a lover of all things quiet, I run, bike and swim to block out the noises around me and deal with the internal stress that drains me. I enjoy just heading out and discovering new trails and paths to take (always wary of dangers around me of course!). I heal and re-energize when I’m alone – and right now I need a lot of healing given my health worries. Don’t get me wrong – I do enjoy being sociable and having two or three workouts a week with others. After all, we’re all creatures that need some level of social interaction. But I do need my alone time as well – and being on my own is my personal, spiritual and physical need.

I know my way isn’t for everyone – and maybe it isn’t for you. Again, it’s being able to gain personal insight that will guide you on what path is the best to take. There’s nothing wrong with a desire to be around others as a social outing, using the competition to push harder, needing the motivation of others to gain a personal best. But there’s also nothing wrong with those of us who sometimes prefer to get lost in the moment, escape stress, decompress, listen to our inner voice, experience that Zen moment when we crest a hill and see this amazing valley open up below us – full of bright green against blue skies and not a soul on the winding road road…except for the odd cow or horse in the field on the edge of the highway!  If you’re like me, you already know that sometimes it’s good to just be on your own once in a while, running the road not taken.

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