THE ROAD NOT TAKEN
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;
Exactly one year ago I walked across a stage with friends and family all around and in much fanfare for everyone involved, I received my Bachelors of Science in Civil Engineering. On that same day, with much less fanfare, but much more meaning, I raised my right hand at one of Americas most famous monuments and became a Quartermaster Officer in the United States Army. This day, and the two event that took place, were a long time in the making.
I spent five years in college working towards a degree I could say I was proud of. I had also spent the past four years, including two summers, learning to become a leader for the Army. On top of all of this I ran varsity track and cross country. All the miles run, the time spent in class, the late nights, they days in the field, all paved the way for this day to happen. Some people view graduation as the end, to me it was just the beginning.
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,
Since the day I became an active duty Army Officer I have been asked one question over and over again – “Why are you here?” Sometimes its just a general question that prompts a general response of why I am at that location, but most of the time its in reference towards why I am in the active duty component of the military. Why did I put aside a pursuit of running? Why did I not get an engineering job instead? What made you not take a higher paying job? Why are you wasting your talents here? In short, its hard to answer all these questions and the many other implied questions that come with them.
On the day I decided I wanted to become an Officer, I knew I wanted to go active duty. I did not care which branch, as long as it was on active duty. Those who know my work ethic would all tell you, I don’t settle. There is the easy way, and then there is the right way. To me, active duty was the right way to go. I could have taken the nice paying job with the company of my choice. I could be back in school, finishing up a master’s degree. But all that to me was not the right way. If I was going to serve my country, it would be on active duty. I will put my life and dreams on pause to answer the call of this nation to serve.
So far, I have little to complain about. Yes, work can suck sometimes, but at the end of the day I can still shake my head and smile because it feels right, and that’s all that should matter.
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.
The path I’m on is changing my life, in what direction I do not know. There is no time to regret the decisions I have made, I just have to learn from what I have done and move forward. If there is one thing I have learned in the past year, it is that life does not stop for you anymore. If you fall down, you get back up and run to catch up. Yes, your team will check to see if you are ok, but the mission comes first and you do everything to the best of your ability.
I can talk about how I should have stayed and finished my master’s degree in a year, but there is no coming back to that spot in time. When I do come back, it will most likely take two years to finish because I have to re-learn concepts. Yet, this is what I love about the path I am on. I will never visit the same decision point twice, but as the path winds its way through life, the same opportunities will present themselves again later in life. I can still achieve my goal of completing my master’s degree in Civil Engineering, it will just be at a later date, under a different set of circumstances.
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
– Robert Frost
As I walk a path that has been traveled before, I can’t help but wonder how many have shared in this experience. How many Logistics Officers on active duty have a degree in engineering? How many of those are planning on making a career out of the military? In my mind, it can’t be too many. Of those few, I can only look forward to hoping one day our paths will cross and we can share in our experiences and memories.
I can always look back with fondness on what was and what could have been, but then again why should I look back. This path only serves to mark where I have been, and provides no indication of where I will go. It serves as a holder of memories and a reminder of trials faced. The path makes intersection with friends, some so old that the crossing can be a journey all in its self. In other places my path converges with others to mark experiences shared, only to diverge once more. I should be looking forward, forward to all that lies ahead of me. There are many opportunities on the horizon to look forward too, and many more that I cannot see yet.
To say I took the road less traveled is a faultless claim. It cannot be refuted by anyone who knows me and where I come from. How else can you explain the turning aside of a promising career in civil engineering and a running dream that was just hitting its potential, to go instead and offer up, at will, the highest of sacrifices to your country if called upon? Yet again, it is a calling that many have answered and many more will.
I walk a path that has been walked before and I share parts of the journey with those around me and with them the mutual support of shared experiences. But for now, I walk my path alone, holding my body proud and looking out at the road ahead.