Saturday, October 26, 2013

Taking the Road Less Traveled

I am sure that you know Robert Frost's poem, "The Road Not Taken." "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood..."  I used this theme a few nights ago when I spoke, as a cancer survivor and multiple-time marathoner, at a Team in Training information meeting.  If you know me, you know that I love to hike and take walks.  Put me down on a path where I have never been, with a good pair of boots or shoes, and I will be as happy as a clam.  When I come to a junction, I want to take both paths, because I am sure I will see interesting things on both.  But, I have to choose.  Which path shall I take?

And that is life, right?  We make choices all of the time.  Some are of little consequence, but a few result in a major change - for good or for bad - in one's life.  For these choices, for these roads that we choose to walk on, there is no going back.  My choice in 2005 to believe in myself enough to commit to training for a marathon while raising a minimum of $5,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in order to participate in the Midnight Sun Marathon in Anchorage certainly fits in that category!  After Anchorage, one of the most incredible experiences of my whole life, that path led to the San Diego Marathon, then to the Arizona Marathon, and eventually to the Country Music, Seattle, Shamrock, and Crawlin' Crab Half Marathons.  It led to the Komen 3-Day in 2011, just 4 months after my beloved sister's death from breast cancer.  There was nothing I could do for her except cross that finish line 60 miles after starting out, shed a tear, and whisper "I did it, Ann!  I did what I told you I would."

Taking that road, the road less traveled, has allowed me to experience amazing things and meet incredible and inspirational people.  If I had taken the easy way out, veered away from that road and taken the more comfortable and predictable one, then I never would have had those experiences or met those people.  It would have been my loss, and much of the money that I raised for LLS (nearly $60,000, I think) and Komen (about $9,000) would not have gone to those groups that are doing good works.

Last weekend, I did a water stop for Team in Training, getting out early Saturday morning to see my teammates who are still training for the Richmond Marathon and serve them water and Gator Aide.  As I waited for them, I watched, with a little envy, the Richmond Marathon Training Team participants running by in a seemingly endless parade.  It was almost like watching a race, there were so many of them.  I was thinking, "Oh man, if we could get 1/10th or even just 1/20th of these guys to sign up for Team in Training, how great would that be?"

Then, two nights later while speaking at the informational meeting, it hit me.  Those folks are on the road more commonly traveled.  There is nothing wrong with that road and with running a marathon just for the experience.  But what the many doing the Training Team don't have that the few of us doing Team in Training do have is the knowledge and feeling that we are doing something bigger than ourselves, something much bigger than just running a marathon.  We are helping in the fight to cure cancer, and to support people facing cancer.  We are walking and running on the road less traveled.

Frost's poem ends thus:

"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."

What will you do when you come to those two roads that diverge in a yellow wood?  Will you also take the more uncertain road, the road less traveled?  If so, that will make all the difference - in the lives of cancer patients now and to come, and in your own life!


Happyone said...

An inspirational post!! : )

Julie Goodale said...

Very nice! Keep enjoying that road you're on - and thanks for venturing down that path.


Racn4acure said...

Thanks for the nice comments, Happyone and Julie. I appreciate them. Art