The only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.– Steve Jobs, American business magnate, cofounder of Apple Computers and media proprietor
If you have a choice, would you change the road you took in life?
Lately, I have been asking myself this question, especially after coming across one of my favourite poems, “The Road Not Taken” by American poet, Robert Frost, on YouTube recently.
I studied his poems as one of the books for my English principal paper in Form Six while studying at St Thomas’ Secondary School in Kuching ages ago. In Lower Six then, I was starting a new chapter in my life and had made an important decision to continue my studies in Kuching.
Born and bred in Sibu and having been educated all my life in my hometown, I was initially hesitant to take up the offer to continue my Lower Six in Kuching, hundreds of miles away from Sibu.
I applied for a transfer to a secondary school in Sibu but the Education Department was adamant. It insisted I reported myself at St Thomas as soon as possible. I had waited for a few months after the classes for Lower Six opened for that year.
But alas, all my waiting was in vain. In the end, faced with the choice of either continuing my studies or dropping out of school, I decided to report myself at St Thomas.
As I boarded the express boat from Sibu to Kuching, I remembered crying buckets of tears while bidding goodbye to my father at the Sibu express terminal.
I liked “The Road Not Taken” because it reminded me of the choices in life, especially my choices in life.
If I had not continued with Lower Six in Kuching, my life’s journey would have been different.
I probably would not have ended up working as a journalist. At my former school, St Elizabeth’s Convent School, in Sibu, I had a good foundation in English because of committed and diligent teachers. They were not afraid of giving us, my classmates and I, tons and tons of English grammar exercises. They developed our creative skills by giving us the freedom to write on any topics in the English essay classes.
At St Thomas, poetry and serious novels like DH Lawrence’s “Sons and Lovers” enhanced my love for the English language and understanding of the complexities of life in general.
Personally, after all these years, I am grateful to the glamorous lady teacher who taught us English literature and encouraged us to analyse and interpret freely the English poems and literature novels we studied.
As a result, I became more confident of myself and learnt to express my thoughts in creative ways.
Thanks to a good pass in my English paper in the Higher School Certificate (HSC), I had a comparative advantage when I applied for a subeditor post in The Sarawak Herald in Sibu. That was my first newspaper job.
My good result in the English paper also helped me secure my first job as reporter cum photographer in the Sarawak Tribune in Kuching a few years later.
The shift from St Elizabeth, an all-girls mission school, to St Thomas, all-boys school, was also a culture shock for me. However, in my Lower Six class, the girls, who came from other all-girls mission schools in Kuching, outnumbered the boys. There were, if I recalled correctly, only three boys in the class and all were very quiet.
Since then, besides deciding whether to continue my Form Six in Kuching or not, I have been confronted with many other decisions in life.
Like moving away from Sibu to work in Kuching, leaving Sarawak Tribune to work in, first, The People’s Mirror and then The Borneo Bulletin, leaving it to work in Sarawak Tribune again, buying a house in Kuching, joining Angkatan Zaman Mansang, a non-governmental organisation devoted to developing communications in Sarawak and accepting the Commonwealth Journalists Association’s scholarship to undergo a three-month journalism course in Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom in 2005, etc.
The main theme of Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” is that human beings are confronted with and defined by the choices they make. In the narrative poem, the speaker is confronted with a fork in the road and must decide what road to take.
Indeed, as pointed out by the narrator in the poem, the road all of us took have made all the difference in our lives. Personally, I have no regrets. If I have a choice, I will not change the road I took. I am happy with life and what it is offering me currently.