Wisdom from The Road Less Traveled


Bangkok, Thailand

Selecting reading material for the road can be a daunting task, even in a relatively small bookstore such as the one in Bangkok pictured above. Interestingly, one of my favorite reads came not from a bookstore directly but from my mom through the mail. I was traveling across Asia at the time, and the book, a pocket-sized square that could slip easily into my pocket, was titled Wisdom from The Road Less Traveled, by M.Scott Peck.

The book was a series of nuggets, passages selected from the larger, best selling book The Road Less Traveled. It was perfect for pulling out while waiting for a bus or train, or while lumbering hours down some road. I’d read a line or two and then sit back and ponder the thing. Without a doubt, it helped shape my outlook while I was traveling.

The book is hard to excerpt since it is best read in progression for full context, but here are a few samples:

  • To be organized and efficient, to live wisely, we must daily delay gratification, and keep an eye on the future; yet to live joyously we must also possess the capacity, when it is not destructive, to live in the present and act spontaneously. In other words, discipline itself must be disciplined. The type of discipline required to discipline discipline is what I call balancing.
  • As we negotiate the curves and corners of our lives, we must continually give up parts of ourselves. The only alternative to this giving up is not to travel at all on the journey of life.
  • Love is not simply giving; it is judicious giving and judicious withholding as well. It is judicious praising and judicious criticizing. It is judicious arguing, struggling, confronting, urging, pushing, and pulling, in addition to comforting.
  • A full life will be full of pain. The only alternative is not to live fully or not to live at all.
  • Call it what you will, genuine love, with all the discipline that it requires, is the only path in this life to substantial joy. Take another path and you may find rare moments of ecstatic joy, but they will be fleeting and progressively more elusive.

Why did I think this was a good travel companion? Because a physical journey always has an inward or spiritual component. My Lonely Planet gave me ideas on what to see and do; Wisdom from the Road Less Traveled gave me insight into life itself. Even when what it said was obvious, or when I didn’t yet know what to make of it, it was good to see it on the page, and to ponder it while.

Posted by | Comments (1)  | February 11, 2010
Category: Images from the road, Notes from the collective travel mind

One Response to “Wisdom from The Road Less Traveled”

  1. Hugh Says:

    Great read. This was required reading for me in high school and although it was a great time to read it, I should really consider re-reading it for some good reflection. Thanks for the reminder!