Two days ago, on March 3, 2015, I watched Netanyahu’s controversial speech to the US Congress in which he tried to persuade America not to make a deal with Iran on its nuclear program. Since I swore not to get into political discussions after last summer’s war with Hamas, I will criticize Netanyahu for only one thing: misquoting Robert Frost’s famous poem “The Road Not Taken.”
“You don’t have to read Robert Frost to know, the difficult path is usually the one less traveled, but it will make all the difference for the future of my country,” Netanyahu said, having probably never read the poem in its entirety. Actually, it is usually recommended that one reads the text one wishes to use to make a case, before one quotes said text. He apparently skipped this important step, otherwise he would know that both paths Frost speaks of are “less traveled by,” and Frost does not refer to difficulty being a characteristic of either. In fact, both are the same: “And both that morning equally lay/ In leaves no step had trodden black.”
The only thing that differentiates the two paths mentioned in the poem is the fact that Frost chose one over the other. The one he did not take, he will likely never get a chance to walk through, and now he must justify his choice. Frost’s metaphor of two roads for an important decision has nothing to do with choosing an easy versus a difficult path, but rather in people’s attempts to give meaning to decisions in hindsight. You’d think politicians like Netanyahu should know a bit about such attempts at rationalizations of past vows .
Nevertheless, it’s not only politicians that search for meaning in the sliding doors of our past. As for me, I have been thinking a lot lately about my decision to participate in the first Ko Tao Writer’s Retreat organized by Erin Wildermuth in October 2015. It was actually my last night in Ko Tao when I noticed a poster for the writer’s retreat. By the time Erin replied to my inquiry email the next day, I had already left Ko Tao for Ko Phangan and was down with a terrible cold. Thankfully I had two full days to somewhat recover from my tropical flu and decide whether or not to split with my travel friends to take the ferry back to Ko Tao.
I had already seen Ko Tao and nothing of Ko Phangan, having spent all of my two days on the island in bed at the Blue Marine Resort in a room with questionable odors. Just as Frost knew how “way leads on to way,/ I doubted if I should ever come back” to Phangan. It was either the writer’s retreat or Ko Phangan. I couldn’t have both.
The decision was not easy and I like to believe I took the “right” one. I didn’t end up doing an enormous amount of writing at the retreat but the various sessions Erin facilitated helped me crystalize various pending decisions. The idea for this blog, despite existing as an amorphous concept for a couple of years, took form at the retreat. The inspiring people I met in Ko Tao the second time around had a profound influence on my resignation from my own stationary life four months later.
I met the Alexandra Baackes of Alex in Wanderland, who told us about how she singlehandedly built one of top 50 travel blogs. Every morning Janine O’Donnell got our creative juices flowing with a lovely yoga session before heading back to Living Juices, the juice bar she bought in Ko Tao after leaving her nine-to-five life in Pennsylvania. And of course, Erin, who moved to the island to pursue her passion of underwater videography and writing.
I will never know what kind of life-changing experiences, if any, I would have had in Ko Phangan had I chose that path. But I didn’t and now everything has changed.
I took the road that was both less and more travelled by, and I like to think it made all the difference.
P.S. As for Netanyahu, Iran, nuclear weapons and other details as such, deal or no deal, I am sure we’ll hear about the the justifications of the decisions made by the powers that be Robert Frost style soon enough.