Tag Archives: Robert Frost

When dad gets sick.

Sometimes, things don’t go as planned. We were looking forward to the first weekend where we only had one activity on the calendar. I was going to get grades caught up. Spend time with the family. Watch the Super Bowl. Enjoy the downtime.

It started as a little tickle in my throat when I woke up Friday morning. We had a teacher in-service that day so the morning routine was relaxed. At lunch time we were going to pick up my blood pressure medicine. I got some cold and flu medicine, too. I thought it would be best to nip the scratchy throat situation before it got worse. By the end of the day I told my wife that I was going to get some rest when we got home.

I wasn’t feeling horrible, but I was tired. I thought part of it was the cold and flu medicine. Things turned for the worse. When bedtime arrived my throat was feeling tight and scratchy. I thought I just needed another dose of medicine, a good night’s sleep, and everything would be good in the morning. I was wrong.

We would go to convenient care in the morning. The doctor would talk about the option of draining my uvula if the antibiotics didn’t work because it was so swollen. I had strep throat. But I didn’t know that Friday night. I had one of the worse nights of my life as my throat and uvula worked together to make me feel as if I was choking on something all night. I would drink some ice water and the sensation would go away for a few minutes. I would close my eyes only to be jolted back by the closing of my throat.

I could not find a position that would alleviate the sensation. Your mind starts to panic in the darkness of the night. So many thoughts ran through my head in that darkness. At one point I did panic. My heart raced. I couldn’t stop thinking something was terribly wrong. But I survived. The night passed.

I would spend all day Saturday and part of Sunday in bed. Away from the kids. Away from the routine of my life. I could hear the laughter and conversation at dinner.  My little girls would stick their head in to say they loved me. My wife would fill my water for me. (I drank so much water!)

My sickness reminded me of a few things.

The first is that family is about routine. Now, not in the boring definition, but by what you do everyday. Each member of the family has a role. A family is the whole of all the parts. A family changes over time. Children grow, routines change and adapt to new situations. But the definition of a family is founded in what each person does. That is why I felt so sad as I listened to my family enjoy dinner Saturday night. They laughed. They talked. I missed that. Dinner time is part of our family definition, part of our routine.

The second aspect of life that was reinforced actually came during my struggle Friday night and maybe because I am only a few years away from being 50 and maybe because we have read the poem, “The Road Not Taken,” in class. (I have written about the poem before in the post, “Only Time Will Tell.”) But time doesn’t wait for your dreams. Time doesn’t wait for your happiness. Time doesn’t wait for anything.

Ironic that I wanted Friday night to end quickly, but it didn’t. But the saddest belief we have is that tomorrow will make our dreams come true, that we will be happier tomorrow. I see this in different ways. My seniors believe that they will be happier next year. I live it every time I pass up an opportunity to fulfil my goals. But time will pass no matter what. Time doesn’t care.

The last thing: I hate it when I get sick.

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Only Time Will Tell

It is graduation weekend for many schools. I wonder how many speeches will quote Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken”? You know the lines:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

These lines have been posturized, quoted, and even used in commercials to express the idea that choosing a different path will change your life.

I am also going to quote this poem in my post, but an entirely different section for the same idea. You might just see the above quote in a new light.

As I have taught this poem over the years I have come to believe the heart of this poem is about choosing a path for the day, but like many of Frost’s poems there is a quiet depth in his lines. I think his deepest statement comes in the first stanza.


It is easy to make decisions when or if we can see it clearly, but that doesn’t happen very often in life, and Frost knew this. “…as far as I could / to where it bent…” Life is not a straight line, we are only allowed to see so far ahead in our lives. We can plan. We can dream. But tomorrow is the bend in the path. We have to make our decisions without knowing what lies beyond that bend. That takes faith. That takes courage.

No matter what you choose, as Frost said, you will be “telling this with a sigh.” What type of sigh? Only tomorrow knows.


Filed under Life

Change / Fate (A Turning 40 Post)

“Closer to the Edge” 30 Seconds to Mars
Can you imagine a time when the truth ran free?
The birth of a song, the death of a dream
Closer to the edge

This never ending story
Paid for with pride and fate
We all fall short of glory
Lost in ourselves

No, I’m not saying I’m sorry
One day maybe we’ll meet again
No, I’m not saying I’m sorry
One day maybe we’ll meet again

My students will not be surprised at my analysis of this song and its connection to life.  This song has been my summer song, not only because me and my second son dance to it in the kitchen, but it just hits a vibe with my life.  The line about the birth of a song but connected with a death of a dream reveals the cost of change.  Changes in our life hold both constructive and destructive powers.

Many people forget the lines “I shall be telling this with a sigh / Somewhere ages and ages hence:” from Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken”. The rest of the poem deals with choosing the path less traveled, but these lines are ambiguous about the true benefit of that choice.

As my fortieth birthday approaches, I look back at all the roads I traveled.  And the ones I didn’t.  I have to wonder how I got here, did I make the right choices?  Was there truly any other paths to follow?   The question of Fate has no easy answer, I love when we cover the book The Natural and dissect the theme of fate presented in the story.  I try to let the students work with their own views of this complex idea.  Because I can not answer them, I can only live closer to the edge where the choices are to be made, knowing that each choice will open one door and close another.

As the video asks, Are you ready? I say bring on the next 40 years…

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