A line in a Robert Frost poem reads, with a little paraphrasing, “I took the road less traveled and that has made all the difference.” I’ve been thinking about those words. Nearly everyone is affected by the dreaded COVID-19. It is easy to yearn for the old normal, what we knew and enjoyed, at least thought we did.

What is going on today feels like a timeout. When the coach is concerned that the game isn’t going well, and we should stop playing for a bit and think about what to do next. What to do next may not be what we have been doing. Is it time to take a different road, maybe one that is not so well-traveled?

Some of us, along the way, were forced to take another road—because of an accident or an illness in the family. Or something more serious. We didn’t have a chance to choose. The choice was made for us. I was one of those. I had polio which meant I could play no sports in high school or participate in anything requiring much physical effort. I did not want to take another road—but I had to do it or else. I didn’t want to think about the “or else.”

Today, many of us have a choice of a different road to take after this crisis passes. Will we?

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: So many roads to take, which one should it be?

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work go to 

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