Robert Frost said, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” This quote has been one of my favorites since I was about ten years old, living in the country with my family. As a girl, the romantic idealism of Frost’s quote inspired me.

But then, as most people do, I grew up. What seemed possible as a child seemed crazy as an adult. It became clear to me, especially after I was married and had babies of my own, that it was time to sit down, shut up, and do what I was supposed to do. Only by following the rules of modern culture would I find happiness.

But then after the deaths of two loved ones in quick succession, my happy little world tilted on its axis. Everyday life felt empty and fake. I was taught that a diploma, a job, a house, financial security, and success were the things that would bring me happiness. But I achieved all of those things–and more–early on. And realized I didn’t feel a sense of peace or rightness about it at all. I thought I was heading toward Success on the roadmap of life, but the compass point kept changing.

Two Roads Diverged in a Wood

I’d earned two diplomas… won material success… had lots of acquaintances… made enough money to survive and thrive… owned a house in a nice neighborhood…

But something was missing.

It seems the promise of modern culture had failed me. I’d played the game the way I was supposed to and won it. But I had no more spiritual depth or deep joy than I started with. In fact, I probably had less than I did as a young girl with Robert Frost’s quote taped to my bedroom wall.

Over the course of the last few years, I’ve done a lot of reading, traveling, and talking to other people. I started to dabble in counter-cultural thoughts and ideas. In doing so, I’ve challenged the social codes I’d always followed, stressed some of my people out, and confused untold numbers of friends and acquaintances. “Her mother just died,” they might have said to explain why I was suddenly off my rocker. But it was more than that. My mother’s death was simply the turning point, the springboard for my new life to begin. I’d had an epiphany. Life is not about material objects. Life is not about ego-based success. It is not about holding on too tightly or constantly being occupied with activities.

So I tore it all away, all the outer trappings. I exited normal. And started fresh. And what I’m allowing into my life now are only those things that will bring me true happiness.

Where do dreams come from? They come from owning up to what really matters to me, despite what others are doing around me. Dreams come true when you continue to fight for them, even when they seem impossible, even when you’re grating on the nerves of people in your old culture, even when other people pretend the possibilities don’t exist. Dreams come true when you realize there’s no separation between you and everyone else, that your ego is an illusion, and that you’re connected to everything in the universe.

Are you walking the less traveled path or the one followed by the masses of modern culture?