« KIRKWOOD | Main | Liquor label Illustration Idea »

and now a word from Robert Frost...



TrackBack URL for this entry:

Comments (25)


Typical guy, got lost, won't admit it.


Frost was well aware he was lost. He had to commit a number of his family members & suffered from depression himself...

...or maybe the depressed folks are the ones who truly understand what life is about, & the so-called "sane" are simply blissful ignoramuses.


Garand Fan:

Maybe that was his roundabout way of saying, "Took the wrong path - got lost."


Nice one, G. :)

I like the quote. It doesn't literally say much at all (it's almost tautological), but we are naturally led to read into it, e.g. that the "difference" is good.

T, in my experience, depression includes a degenerate pattern of thought. Logic is not necessarily affected, but emotion, motivation, and relative emphasis and focus are distorted. What good is understanding everything if your mind is caught in a loop?

john cox:


I prefer recognizing the courage of individulaism inherent in this poem. Robert Frost doesn't seem to be lamenting bad choices as much as championing difficult ones.

john cox:

Has anybody read Frost's sequel, "The Off-Ramp Not Taken"?


Nope, but read the prequel..."Okay, Where's the #$%& Map!?"



There are all kinds of depression. The "pattern" you describe is indicative of a number of them, but certainly not all of them.

There are other types in which the brain is in a state of super activity in comparison to a [more "typical" brain]. Instead of the brain firing in the constrained loops of a "normal" person, the brain lacks compartmentalization, & synapse activity is high across the brain, which results in a level of sagacious thought that "normal" brains are not capable of.

The attitude expressed in your comment stigmatizes those who experience depression, who--except for a relatively small number of extreme cases--have not only a manageable condition, but a condition that--once managed--gives them insights that those who never experience depression can fathom.

Perhaps Frost took a less traveled path because he had no choice. He wasn't born into poverty, he attended both Dartmouth & Harvard (finishing neither), & had some advantages that could have put him on a very comfy path with Bentley & Courtney at the country club without much effort.

As John pointed out--exemplary accomplishments from a man who "had a lover's quarrel with the world".

Doc Al:

Too bad the current generation will depend on their GPS's and only go where the little voice in the box tells them to.

As my one English teacher pointed out, this is one of the most misinterpetted poems ever. Everyone just quotes the last line and acts like a paen to going you own way.

If you read the whole poem, you see there's a major disconnect in his description of the roads before he decides which to take (where he's more or less randomly deciding between two intistinguishable paths) and the famous last line.

What the poem is really about is how when we look back on the past, we tend to try to rationalize essentially random events to justify things as deserved or not deserved.


Very well said, John. Didn't Frost also do "Directions Not Given" and "Your Other Left"?


T, I've never experienced depression where I was capable of the super-thinking you describe, though it has included a different focus and perspective which leads to different solutions (good and bad). Of course, my own experience is limited.

Perhaps you are referring to the mania or hypomania of a bipolar disorder? That can be a remarkably productive stage, making one wonder if such creative highs can exist without such depressed lows. But even this, I think, is far more closely associated with delusion than the overall clarity of thought (understanding of life) that you posit.

To the extent that depression is a disorder closely associated with negative outcomes, it is naturally stigmatized, but it is certainly not my intent to shame, make matters worse, or compound depression and I deeply apologize if I came across that way.

I believe our challenges define us. Overcoming them is difficult and to be praised, as with managing depression.


Robert Frost: The Road Not Taken (1915)

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.


Interesting point, Stormy.

"Though as for that the passing there; Had worn them really about the same."

That does suggest a conflict with "less traveled". It looks like it was merely less traveled _recently_.

I don't really see "deserved" or "not deserved", but in context I do see it as a commentary on choices with insufficient evidence and trying to rationalize a choice. And perhaps questioning the significance of minor choices in hindsight. It's even possible that he is being sarcastic, but I think that would detract from the poem for me.



When you say "In your experience", do you mean "your own personal depression"--& are you extrapolating your personal struggle to everyone else's?

The depression I wrote very briefly about is depression correlated to one degree or another with the many facets of OCD (especially OCD where there is no "C" component), disassociative disorders (certain cases of schizophrenia, dyspraxia, or Asperger's, as examples), or in cases of pure genius where a person is so perceptive & neuroplastic that he eventually understands more than he is emotionally equipped to deal with (these people typically lack the sense of denial that most people have, which allows them to briefly ponder tough existential questions &--not reaching an answer within a few minutes--forget about them, never to raise them again).

The last was the case with one of the scientists who worked on the Manhattan project. He tried to address his depression, but was quick to realize his depression was atypical to what therapists of the time were accustomed to dealing with, & rather than waste his time trying to convince an egghead trained in a narrow (& for his purposes insufficient) discipline (& spending a fortune in the process), he woke in the morning, pushed his clutched hands deep in his pockets, put his head down, & walked all day long until he returned home exhausted.

Many who experience depression themselves & either overcome it or learn to manage it often make the mistake of thinking that other people who experience depression ought to be able to overcome it in the same manner & as easily as they did. This is [clinically] narcissistic (not to be confused with egotism) & condescending, & is an attitude which alienates people, can easily exacerbate others' depression, &--coupled with the "I don't understand" mentality of those who never experience depression--is the prevailing attitude which isolates many depressed folks who need true empathetic relationships to heal.

The main thing I've learned about depression is how curiously & wonderfully different human minds are.


“Live as if you were already living for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now!” – Victor Frankl, the categorical imperative of Logotherapy, from Man’s Search for Meaning (an abridged synopsis of the original 10-volume text in the original "Austrian" *)


Imagine yourself at some point in the future looking back at this moment. What would be the decision(s) you would make now—and what changes would you make to your life now—in order for that future self to think, “I made the best choice(s) I possibly could.”

* Barack Obama, at an April 4, 2009 news conference in Strasbourg, France, on the language spoken in Austria, which is actually German (and to lesser degrees Croatian, Hungarian, & Slovene).


T, I was referring to both my own personal depression and my understanding from other sources, though my second use was more specifically personal since it seemed to me that super-thinking can be confused with excessive focus by external viewers.

You're right that I was, in part, extrapolating my personal struggle, primarily because I think it is far more typical of depression than the more atypical, complex cases you describe where depression is one part of a larger disorder (and not the part I would attribute super thinking and clarity to). Perhaps our disagreement stems from that difference, or from different definitions of what "truly understanding what life is about" means.

In any case, my original comment stemmed from my concern that people would believe they are thinking clearly and understanding life better when they are depressed. This strikes me as not only wrong in general (as determined by hindsight) but also dangerous given associated outcomes such as suicide.

I agree with pretty much everything you just wrote -- except as it applies to me. :) I don't think depression is easy. Every struggle is unique (though there are some common tools, e.g. the scientist's exercise to exhaustion). No one can solve it for you, even the "typical" cases. It is inherently isolating. No one else can understand; we don't even understand it ourselves.

"True empathetic relationships to heal" sounds good, but I don't think we need to value depression in order to value the person.

"The main thing I've learned about depression is how curiously & wonderfully different human minds are."

Well said.


You missed T's point regarding empathy.

It isn't about "valuing depression." It's about avoiding minimizing depression, in turn avoiding minimizing the person.

T once told me empathy is not the point where you think you understand what's going on in somebody else's head. Empathy is the point where the other person says, "Yes. That's it. You understand."

A lot of people turn their backs on their friends before they get to that point.

I don't even think you have to get to that point, but I think a bout of depression will show you who your real friends are.

"Nobody knows you when you're down and out."


Thanks, A--but there's validity to both points.

I might really catch it for this, but there are an awful lot of people who call themselves "depressed" who work really hard to hold on to relatively light emotional baggage--or simply use depression as a blanket excuse for not being what they think they should be, throw themselves a pity party, & blame the world for their troubles.

Our government & it's education system has turned a lot of people into crybabies who can't think for themselves. Boortz calls them "the dumb-masses". Ortega y Gasset (a much greater mind than Boortz) calls them "the mass man."

We've beaten this horse to death & then some.

Next thread, please.


Well, you won't catch it from me. :)

Good talking with you, T.



Road Not Taken is probably Frost's most misudnerstood poem. Frost himself commented that it was "very tricky".

You can of course take whatever quote from the poem out of context and interpret it to mean whatever you'd like... As a whole however, the poem is not about individualism but rather an existentialist lament. The speaker sighs because he knows that neither of the 2 roads was in fact less traveled ("worn them really about the same... both equally lay in leaves not trodden black") He will simply claim that he took the less traveled road to evade the reality that he got where he was by chance. Also we have no idea if "the difference" is a good or bad difference, and the speaker himself probably also wonder what the difference might have been.

Usually your caricatures are spot on, however, this one looks more like Andy Rooney.


so informative, thanks to tell us.


so informative, thanks to tell us.

I think the blogs are approaching death as so many useless comments are flooding our blog pages.
I suggest you tighten your comment filtering a little, lots of spam here.
Let us rejoice if this post actually makes it by the forum admins. There's really no harm here. I'm just drunk :)
I haven't launched my website yet, but my mom say I have the skills. I want it to look like yours, care to share any tips?
This page rocks, keep up the good work.

It is easier to admire hard work if you don't do it.


John Cox is a painter, cartoonist, and illustrator for hire. For information about purchasing existing work or commissioning new work, contact him by e-mail at john555cox [at] hotmail.com.

About This Page

This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 9, 2010 12:13 AM.

The previous post in this blog was KIRKWOOD.

The next post in this blog is Liquor label Illustration Idea.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Powered by
Movable Type 3.35