The Road not Taken

two roads

                                           Image source: Kevingessner

I loved reading gamebooks as a teenager in Nigeria. This is because they were the most interactive books at the time. Gamebooks aka ‘choose your own adventure books’ presented the reader with two decisions from page one and you were required to make a choice before you can proceed with the story. It meant you had to think for the main character and make decisions on his or her behalf. Each decision had a consequence and each decision led to another page with two more decision choices. This meant that gamebooks had multiple endings and not all of them were pleasant endings for the main character.

I heard a preacher a couple of weeks ago talk about a period in his life when he and a friend were at T- junctions in terms of decision-making. He was faced with two choices. He chose one option and his friend chose the other. The preacher’s life, with the benefit of hindsight, has turned out much, much better than his friend’s fate. The preacher’s T-junction story made me think of one particular T-junction decision which has had a big impact on my life.

The year was 2006 and I was in desperate need of a job. My current research contract was running out and I had applied for several research positions. I was invited to attend two interviews which happened to be on the same day but in two different regions. I contacted the university in Sheffield and asked them if they were willing to re-arrange the interview for me so I could attend at an earlier date. They agreed. This meant that I was able to attend the Sheffield interview and still go for the Lancashire interview.

I was on my way home from the Lancashire interview when my phone rang at the Carlisle train station. It was the Sheffield interview panel offering me the job. Just as they asked if I wanted the job; I could see that I had another phone call. I knew it was the Lancashire folks. I told the Sheffield caller to give me two days to decide and got off the phone in time to pick up Lancashire call. They also offered me a job. I went from no job to two jobs in five minutes at that train station. I asked Lancashire to also give me two days to decide.

I eventually chose Sheffield and as a consequence met my wife at Sheffield and many other fantastic people who I regard as good friends. These are people that I probably would never have met if I had decided to go to Lancashire instead. I would have met different people and lived a different life. I am glad to say I have no regrets choosing Sheffield over Lancashire. I believe we are all defined in some way by our decisions and by the detours we take in life. I am where I am and who I am because of my decisions and detours.

One of my favourite poems is Robert Frost’s ‘The road not taken’ in which he describes a T-junction decision. I would encourage you it to read it.

 

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 travelled by,

And that has made all the difference.

11 Comments

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11 Responses to The Road not Taken

  1. Very good. We are all shaped by our decisions!

  2. Vincent

    Ola, this is a good piece of writing. Explaining using life experience the importance of good decision making. And the benefits that come with wise decision making. It also shows a maturity in your writing, a willingness to acknowledge you have life experience and to reflect and learn the lessons thereof. From this piece, it is also clear that God orchestrates your path and is kind to you. You have my continuing best wishes to you and family.

  3. Kike

    Wow. I love this story, Uncle. It just goes to show how easily ones destiny can change based on one decision. Very interesting. I’m glad you chose Sheffield too!! Thank God!!

  4. Tosin

    Enjoyed the post, thank you.

    So, how and why Sheffield. Just wondering what the decision process was if you don’t mind sharing.

    • Olaojo Aiyegbayo

      I chose Sheffield because it was the better research university and Sheffield’s research project (e-learning) would provide me the opportunity to develop my career by giving me more options once the one year contract ended. The Lancashire post was also for one year but it would limit my options at the end of it.

  5. Ajuma

    Really enjoyed this post Ola! I remember those books well, brings back memories!

    The old saying “hindsight is 20-20” hits home most when we can look back on the big T-junction decisions in our lives and see how both scenarios could’ve played out.

    No doubt there’s an element of maturity needed in decision making, but these types of decisions will be extremely daunting if we try and make them all on our own. We’ve got the big guy in our corner, which trumps and logic we can apply or gut feelings we might have. If we ask God he’ll always guide us along the right path. Even when the right decision might not seem like the logical one to everyone else. God invariably knows what’s best for us, and which is the right way to go.

    • Olaojo Aiyegbayo

      Hey Ajuma, I agree with you that God’s invisible hand of providence helps steer our decisions and directions and is a comfort when things don’t seem to make sense. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the post.

  6. Ogechi

    Hey Prof…ya, I definitely enjoyed this piece, It certainly makes one consider how much we miss out on because we make stubborn choices. Nothinh wrong with taking out time to decide. Maturity definitely makes a big difference, as does keeping an open mind.
    Decision-making is sometimes an uncomfortable process when there are multiple choices, but it is so necessary for progress to be made. Thank GOD for enabling us with HIS wisdom…

    PS: am definitely glad you chose Sheffield too! :)

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