The road not taken
Have you ever stood at a fork in the road hesitating about which way to go? Have you ever regretted as you had selected one while the other road looked more attractive or because you realized later that the other would have ended up with a better result? It is needless to say all of us have faced or will face this situation. ‘Regret’ may be the most likely emotion in this kind of experiences rather than satisfaction.
I used to recite a poem, ‘The road not taken’ written by an American poet, Robert Frost (1874-1963). In the last stanzas, it says,
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 t hat has made all the difference
This poem is about the aspiration and retrospect of life and regret for the decision not to have chosen the alternative. Frost said later that this poem was about his friend Edward Thomas, who, according to Frost, “would be sorry he didn’t go the other, whichever road he went”.
Let me put it the other way round. ‘Buridan’s ass’, known as an ethical or logistical allegory, addresses a paradox regarding human’s indecisiveness. A donkey, standing just in the middle of two heap of hay of equivalent size and quality cannot make a decision without rational ground to start eating one rather than the other, which will lead him to starving. He should have chosen one just to appease his hunger but the hesitance caused him the worst consequence.
In Confucianism teaching, it is also said that ordinary humans are inevitably insufficient. Although a person of greatness may reach as equal state as the power of Heaven and Earth, the brightness of the sun and moon and the regularity of the four seasons, humans in general are required to wait for the decree of the Heaven. While pure energy is given from Heaven and humans have a duty to follow it, in order to accomplish the order well, humans have to work hard and train the inner self sincerely. At