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Sunday, November 30, 2014

Miles to go before I sleep

My Favorite poem, by Robert Frost is this one:

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

“Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”


I like a lot of Robert Frost's poetry but this one pops up in my mind whenever I feel discouraged, tired, or frustrated. Life isn't easy. Cold winds blow and the snow, or rain, or drought, hot winds or fire, all carry perils. It ain't easy. But life is a journey and we have promises we've made individually and other ones we made implicitly. Promises to our parents, children, grandchildren. Duties to fulfil, obligations to loved ones and friends. Our sense of "mission" or "purpose" is tied up with whether or not we are willing to commit to such promises and take on such duties. Virtue is when people live up to the promises of a role and actually keep those promises.

And so this little poem speaks to the need to go on and to a lot more than the need to go on. It would be easier to stay and sleep in the snow. Or to stay at home and do nothing. But if we did that, we'd never get the chance to stop from time to time and watch the snow fill up the woods with a lovely blanket and fill the world with beauty and wonder.

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