His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
This poem has always struck a chord with me even in my pre-wandering days. The balance between fulfilling your responsibilities and exploring the world to your heart’s desire becomes even more defined when reaching parenthood. Seeing what’s down the path within the dark woods is always a temptation, but keeping your promises to your family means resisting the urge to wander.
Being able to achieve that balance is truly an exercise in making the most of the time we are given.
But it’s the last two lines that really resonate for me. “And miles to go before I sleep.” Frost of course is talking about all the things he wants to accomplish over the course of his life before he “sleeps” for good. These lines always echo in my head though. In my career, it’s a reminder that getting the job done is the priority no matter what. When on the road, it’s often miles before I can sleep – especially if I just rolled into a one-motel town and there’s no vacancies.
And like Frost, I hope have many many miles more to go before I sleep. There’s just so much to do and see out there.