Monday, 13 January 2020

Explore Possibilities in a New Decade

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

Robert Frost

The Road Not Taken is one of my favourite Robert Frost poems. It’s become a little clich├ęd, but the image of the diverging roads resonates with my soul.

At the beginning of a new decade, the poem is a timely reminder that while we make plans, life doesn’t always go the way we expect. 

A few years ago, I visited Vermont, walked in a yellow wood, and explored a leaf-covered path that hadn’t seen a lot of foot traffic. Experiencing this landscape was a spiritual experience for me as I walked in places I had dreamed of when reading this poem. 

I took this photo as a reminder of one particular moment. It’s my desktop screensaver and is a visual reminder of how each day is a series of choices and intentions and that each choice or intention can influence the direction of my life.

My house backs onto a national park. We walk through the back gate right into it as we take our evening walk with our golden retriever. Crisscrossing this piece of bushland are many trails and firebreaks. We’ve lived here for years and we still get lost sometimes as we explore a new trail.

The outward-bound trails wind downhill so, if we get lost, we know that all we have to do is head uphill and we will eventually find our way home.

Sometimes, I wear my sports watch, which has a GPS tracker. It measures time, calories, and distance and, when uploaded on my laptop, a map with my path comes up. 

Sometimes, the map shows a circular route. On other days, when I go down a new path and get a little lost, it looks like spaghetti. 

My goals are achieved, no matter what the picture looks like–I’ve exercised, the dog has exercised, my husband and I have talked as we walked. Sometimes, we talk to God as our golden joyfully explores the varied scents in the bush. 

In January, we like to set our path for the year and hope that our path will be straight. However, life sometimes isn’t that predictable. Things happen. We change our minds. Opportunities emerge that we never imagined. If we had a bird’s eye view of our lives over a year, the path would rarely be smooth and orderly.

However, if we set our intentions and keep heading in the direction of our goals, even allowing ourselves to explore new trails along the way, we look back and see that we have arrived at the destination we were supposed to, and perhaps had a few fun adventures along the way. 

Proverbs 3: 5-6 tells us to trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

I’ve always found it interesting that this verse says, he will make your paths straight. At times, we are encouraged to stay on the one path, whatever that is. The picture I have in my head is of a central path with lots of deviations that zig-zag. 

Gretchen Rubin put it like this in her book, The Happiness Project

Go off the Path was meant to push me to encounter the unexpected thoughts, unfamiliar scenes, new people, and unconventional juxtapositions that are the key sources of creative energy–and happiness. Instead of always worrying about being efficient, I wanted to spend time on exploration, experimentation, digression and failed attempts that didn’t always look productive.

Setting goals for a new decade, writing to-do or wish lists, and setting our course are things we should all do. But, as we look ahead to 2020, I hope we get off the path a little and explore possibilities in new ways. 

The Lord will make our paths straight and we will end up at the right destination in our creative work and life generally. 



Find out more about Elaine at


  1. Thank you for your Insightful and encouraging words, Elaine. I've certainly done lots of zigzags and meandering in my journey, some intentional, some because of roadblocks and other invasive circumstances, some clearly because of divine re-direction. As you suggest, while they can be frustrating, they also open up new vistas and provide new discoveries. I am encouraged by your reminder that 'The Lord will make our paths straight and we will end up at the right destination in our creative work and life generally'.

  2. Thanks, Elaine. Good thoughts. Last year was a huge zig-zag for me. I didn’t accomplish what I wanted to but God opened up some very unexpected doors. Still not sure what I think of some of them. Thanks for encouraging me. I wonder what God will do in 2020? Surprise us, Lord!

  3. Hi Elaine, I agree with you and Gretchen Rubin. Those unforeseen zig zags can keep taking us on unexpected tangents, but going with them, and trusting that they will bring us back to the main, straight path, is what life is all about. I hope you have a happy 2020!

  4. Lovely photo of the woods & an inspiring analogy. Sometimes the curved, branching paths are actually the straightest. It's encouraging to know that God directs our paths.