Wikipedia:Taking the road less traveled

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The road less traveled[edit]

Taking the road more often traveled is almost always more stable, easier to cross, but...
...taking the road less traveled can sometimes yield better and more sound results.

Metaphorically speaking, someone who takes 'the road less traveled' has come to take on the meaning of a person who is acting independently, freeing themselves from the conformity of others (who choose to take 'the road more often traveled'), generally making their own choices, and perhaps leaving a new trail that will become the road more often traveled (until, of course, someone takes the road less traveled from there, and happens upon something even better than the first improvement; in that way, the cycle always repeats itself, and Wikipedia is continually made better).

However, ironically, the true meaning of "Taking the road less traveled" is a misinterpretation of the Robert Frost poem in which the second and third stanzas describe two divergent roads as equally attractive, and ending at the same destination.

The idea of doing things differently to how they are usually done is arguably particularly applicable to Wikipedia. For example, if a person (as an editor or as a reader, for example) happens across a way to do any thing in a 'better' fashion than is commonly done, then the risk of taking the road 'less traveled' may seem desirable. Of course, if this is done repeatedly, this 'road' might become a trail that will become the road often traveled.

Comparing the road more often traveled with the road less traveled[edit]

Taking the road less traveled is not always the best choice. Continuing along a road more often traveled is advantageous if anticipating what lies ahead is important. Taking another road just to circumvent the road more often traveled, the road that policy is built on, is not always smooth and is more likely to result in the need to navigate more unexpected occurences. Those adept at advanced planning can be more effective when taking roads more often traveled. It is the easier and more attractive road for people who enjoy predictability, social approval and proven ways.

Making the choice of which road to take can sometimes be hard, and is very dependent on the situation, and the traveller's aims. One must assess the possible advantages, disadvantages and risks of taking either road, just as any real-life explorer or traveler would.

Certain people, at certain times do search for the easiest paths through life. However, while less stressful, the easier paths are often the less eventful. The school of thought that advocates the "road less traveled" recognises that overcoming adversity generally advances our awareness and understanding of the world. The mindset of an explorer or adventurer is to embrace the unknown, regardless of how difficult the journey may turn out to be. The road less traveled potentially brings us more challenges to overcome and the unforeseen. As a result, greater insight, new knowledge or maturity can emerge.

Origin[edit]

The phrase itself is a famous few lines extracted from "The Road Not Taken" by poet Robert Frost:

The colloquial meaning of "Taking the road less traveled" could be argued to be an ironic misinterpretation of the poem which in the second and third stanzas include descriptions of the two roads being similarly attractive: "just as fair ... really about the same... both that morning equally lay, In leaves no step had trodden...". In this sense, the poem reflects on how we reconcile our decisions over time, often giving more weight to the moment of decision-making --with the wisdom of hindsight-- than was true at the original time.

And yet, the phrase "perhaps the better claim, Because it was grassy and wanted wear" speaks to a want or desire drawn out from a lack of "wear". In some subtle sense, the slightness of the choice makes beauty's glance even more tantalising, and the decision more sophisticated or visceral. The greener route holds some flicker of possibility; a glimmer made to motivate modest desire. It is not a path of great adventure or virgin conquest, but nonetheless provokes a draw by concealed possibility suited for tame excitement over familiarity.

See also[edit]

  • ^ https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2015/09/11/the-most-misread-poem-in-america/