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‘The Road Not Taken’ Not for Everyone’
The world is too much with us.
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.
Little we see in nature that is ours.
We have given our hearts away ...
I'm not rambling away from my intention to write about the travels of Rosa and Paul Angelone. It's just that I view my life as an integrated whole in which each new event or experience causes me to reflect on others.
Here I go again, clucking around like an old biddy! It says in the Bible that man cannot live by bread alone, meaning that we must nourish our spirits as well as our bodies. I think that we pay a high price, getting and spending in order to acquire the external and transitory trappings of affluence. We give our hearts to expensive cars, trinkets and toys, brand-name clothing, fattening restaurant meals and elaborate homes.
"I don't have time!" is a cry heard throughout the land: No time to cook, invite friends to a party or dinner, chat with our spouses, or volunteer. We don't have time to read for our own pleasure, let alone read or tell stories to our little children and grandchildren. We let them fill their minds with electronic games rather than taking the time to instill in them a sense of beauty and real-life adventure. We shouldn't wonder why they have so little time for us when we had so little time for them.
I cannot have too much beauty in my life. The arts nourish my inner being's spirituality. I rarely read poetry, but certain poems that I have stored away provide a banquet for my intellect, nourish my spirituality and make music in my mind's ear. A good poet can sum up in a few lines ideas that would take a novelist hundreds of pages.
My mother had only an eighth-grade education, but could recite by heart her favorites such as “Abou ben Adhem.” She recited it to me from the time I was a small child until her elder years, and it had an impact on the way I view humanity.
The real Ibraim ben Adhem was a Muslim sultan who gave up his throne after a dream and devoted his life to good works. In the poem, he awakened to a vision of an angel writing in a book. "What writest thou?" "The names of those who love the Lord." "And is my name there?" "Nay, not so." "Then write of me that I love my fellow man." The angel reappeared the next night and showed him the golden book: "And lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest!"
One of my favorites is Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken" in which the poet looked down two paths - the one that most people walk and one overgrown with grass. He chose to become a poet, saying, "And I - I chose the path less traveled by, and that has made all the difference." Most of us don't have the courage to set off by ourselves on the less - traveled path.
Like all living creatures, we are born weak and defenseless. First our parents and families protect and nurture us. Then we are "brought up" so that we may have manners and morals, and educated so that we become self-sufficient, productive members of society. With the best of intentions we tie our children to trellises as if they were roses or tomatoes and then try to prune them into the shape that we desire so that they will grow to be like every other plant in the garden.
Obviously we need to teach children acceptable manners and conduct lest they become self-centered louts. However, when I watch the eagerness, open-mindedness, individuality, optimism and spontaneity of children I wonder if we should try to be more like them, rather than pruning and training them to become like us.
We say - even to young adults - "We know what's best." "We'll help you." "You have no common sense!" Then we complain when they are weak. Thoreau said that common sense is that sense that men have when they are asleep. I think that often common sense is based on fear - fear of failure, fear of being "different" and the fear of loosening ourselves from the comfortable trellis of convention to which we are bound.
Next week: the uncommon Angelones.
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