Robert Frost wrote about the road not taken – the choice between two divergent paths. Two options. The dilemma of which way to go; which path to choose.
Our lives are full of these junction points; the times we get to choose which way we will go and how we will live. These decisions determine the direction of our lives and how happy, content and healthy we will be. The road we take dictates whether we reach our destination and how much we enjoy the journey. I got a timely reminder this morning.
Either side of some work calls and playing in the S&A midweek medal (golf is on the up and my scoring on the down – which is all good), I met a friend from the world of politics. A good guy. A really good guy who works incredibly hard for what he believes – and I believe – and for the good of his local community and his country. This is the good side of politics.
We had a coffee and a catch up, which was hugely enjoyable. We talked about the recent national result and the calamitous Conservative campaign – and by contrast the fantastic local result, returning a Tory MP for the first time in a generation. We spoke about our new MP – a thirty-something man who is now immersing himself in Westminster and his important role a as champion for my home town.
Of course, for somebody of my background and previous ambitions – also a thirty-something man – just – I announced aged nine that I wanted to an MP and Prime Minister – it doesn’t take much imagination to assume that I thought about the road I have travelled and the road I decided to turn my back upon. The road that leads to Westminster.
I still believe passionately in the good that politics can do and those engaged in it can do – as Margaret Mead had said and the writers of the West Wing reminded us “ Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” I believe this despite all the ugliness of politics. But I believe much more that happiness and contentment in my life is built around my home and family – not a world spent in constant campaigning mode; meetings after meetings; facing into the abuse of media, voters and political opponents; and trying (and inevitably failing) to shield my wonderful wife and darling daughter from the nastiness and grubbiness of politics. The brutal invasion of privacy. The extraordinarily long hours of thankless tasks. The compromises of integrity needed to climb the greasy poll.
I enjoyed seeing my friend; I enjoyed seeing our new MP elected; I enjoyed thinking about and talking about politics. But I enjoy much more – so, so much more – that I chose the path I chose. As Frost said; “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less travelled by, And that has made all the difference.”
I may have abandoned my ambition to be an MP and my chance to change the world through politics but I am so proud of the road I have chosen – the road that leads to my home and my family. The road that leads to my heart.