I first stumbled into the Robert Frost poem because it formed the basis for one of my favorite short Science Fiction stories. The story had posited “what if” faster-than-light travel was actually something most races stumbled into at roughly medieval levels of technology, and we simply never figured it out?

Most cultures went a-hunting across the starry seas, while we developed electronics, missiles, and fighter jets. And then one day, they landed.

Much to their surprise.

A later story in the series posits that we too sat on our laurels of superior technology, and are caught nearly totally unprepared when another race repeats our performance.

One other thing this poem echoes for me: Every decision is final. Consequences, intended or not, are final. You can take the effort to undo, to trace back your steps, but this requires even more work. In the meantime, “way leads on to way”, and there are many, many  more choices to make each day.

The Road Not Taken

by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference