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Making sure our choices count

During this COVID-19 pandemic, it’s easy to find oneself at a crossroads. What to do then? Columnist Diane Chase urges us to keep making decisions that will help all people. (Provided photo — Diane Chase)

A widely quoted poem “The Road Not Taken,” by Robert Frost, has been used in inspirational posters, taglines and commercials. The poem is usually thought to be about taking risks and pushing boundaries. Some people think the poem reflects on the traveler taking the undiscovered path rather than the traditional one. Later the person reflects inspirationally on those choices and states, “and that has made all the difference.”

Another analysis is that the roads are exactly the same, but the traveler decides on one road, only to doubt his decision, knowing he can’t go back to change the outcome, “and that has made all the difference.” (I will make a point. Give me a second. Good grief, you’re just like my children.)

There are so many conversations on how to safely open up businesses and how our return to society is going to work. I’m not going to get political here but will keep it local. Everyone is struggling in different ways. I know, for our family, the part that helps us remember why we are staying home, socially distancing and being careful with wearing masks/gloves is because of the people that we know. People that you may know as well.

A few million years ago (or so it seems) when I picked my son up from college social distancing hadn’t been implemented and we had just a glimpse of what was happening globally. On the return drive, our conversation wandered around numerous topics. One exchange we still reflect upon is his list of people he was going to visit when he got back home. He likes to connect with a few high school teachers, but this time he paused and verbalized how his actions could be traced back to a vulnerable person. No matter the scenario, he was able to connect himself to someone else’s vulnerable person. He sees his music teacher, who talks with a colleague, who speaks to a student who has a vulnerable sibling. It always ends with someone who needs protecting. Those situations haven’t changed.

My point (this is the part where my children usually celebrate) is that we are at a crossroads. We are at a point when information and misinformation still abounds. With all of that, there are some facts that are indisputable. People die. You don’t have to believe the numbers, but I wonder what number of preventable deaths is acceptable? I would hope that zero is your answer. Everyone is someone’s neighbor, friend, co-worker or acquaintance. This can’t be the time that we make decisions based on individual wants or needs. This is the time to ask for help if help is needed, but not to jeopardize other people. That is why my family stays in our house, uses masks and gloves, and continues to use social distancing. Later in life, where I hope to end up, I’ll be sharing the olden days during COVID-19. I don’t want my story to be shrouded in regret. I want it to reflect on the time that I had an opportunity to be steadfast and patient and that made all the difference.

“The Road Not Taken,” By Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

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.

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