A Woman’s Right to Choose

Nope. This blog post is not what you think it is. It has nothing to do with women’s rights.

No, this is really a story about employing one’s right to make choices in life –decisions that do not necessarily follow the order or conceived path.

Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken” does a great job at illuminating the message I am trying to make here. Now, as a reader, you have two choices; we can make this a “choose your own journey, which happens to be quite apropos, in this case. You can indulge the English major in me, and read the text of the poem, which I have included below. Alternatively, you can skip the text of the poem, and jump to the next paragraph where I will sum up my point.

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.

For those of you who chose to skip the poem, here is the Sparknotes version –a traveler comes upon a fork in the road. The traveler wishes that he could try out both paths, but, knowing that “…way leads onto way,” he recognizes that the path he chooses will be the one he follows, as generally one choice will lead naturally to the next. The traveler ends up picking “the road less traveled by,” and ultimately, that choice makes “all the difference” in his life.

Often in life, we feel that we are making choices for ourselves. However, I would argue that many of these choices are not so much choices as they are extensions of behaviors, continuations of previous experiences, patterns or the natural path based on how we have been raised.

For example, the fact that I studied English Literature –was that a choice? On the basic level of understanding, yes, it was. But, I was raised in a home where reading was encouraged. As a young reader, I took to this hobby. I was the kid who joined the summer reading club at the local library, who ate through book after book, and absolutely relished the Scholastic Book Fair every year in elementary school. So, becoming an English Major –seemingly the natural course of events.

In my last post I wrote about my reasons for making aliyah: my belief in Israel as the Jewish Homeland, and the more practical or logistical ease of being an observant Jew here. What I failed to mention are some of the responses I have received.

I explain that I had been living in New York for about five and a half years. I studied at Stern College for Women and went on to teach at SAR Academy for two and a half years. I tell them how much I loved my teaching job, and the difficulty with which I left it. I tell them that I had recently been accepted to an MA program in English Education in New York, but when I came to Israel for Passover, my very clear life path in New York was disrupted. I then proceed to tell them that I returned to America, tearfully told my work that I would be leaving for the holy land, notified the graduate school that I would be turning down my place, found a subletter for the spot in my apartment, and made all the necessary arrangements for my move.

The reaction I have receive usually goes as follows: ”You had everything going for you there…and you left? Like, you are not running away from anything?” “Yes,” I reply, “ I left because I know that if I don’t try this now, who knows if this chance will come along again.” Just as Robert Frost says, when we make a decision to follow one path, usually we are led to the next natural step, and we rarely have the chance to backtrack and choose a divergent path.

Very seldom in life do we truly have the opportunity to choose. This year, I invoked that right. I chose to attempt a path that is a great deal less certain, and certainly more difficult than the one I was on previously. It is my hope and my belief that this choice will indeed, make all of the difference.

About the Author
Born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, Nicole Grubner earned her BA in English Literature from Stern College. She taught at SAR Academy in Riverdale, NY, and is now a PR professional living in Israel, working on behalf of Israeli companies to tell their stories in international markets.