Thank you for your comments and questions that have guided my thinking and decision.
Comments emailed from a generous neighbor:
1. Policy claim
Emphasis should be placed on the process of making reflective choices rather than interpreting a challenge to take life’s most difficult path when reading Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken.”
"One wonders what “process” or “policy” the traveler use in making his or her decision to take one road over the other. Apparently he/she looked at both, enough to determine the condition of each. Both appeared to be equal (or nearly so) and no one had walked down either path that morning to give a hint as to what most people preferred. So why did he/she take one and not the other? It seems that it might have been the traveler’s “policy” to always take the more difficult path, as if he/she expected to benefit somehow—as in 'if it doesn’t kill you, it will make you stronger'."
2. Definition claim
Contrary to popular belief, Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken” is not about taking the less traveled road, but rather how we make life choices.
"On the surface, there seems to be little in this poem about how to make life choices. The traveler does take the time to look down both paths, and he/she assesses them to be about equal although there is equivocation because one “wanted wear” apparently because it was less traveled. Beyond that, the decision to take one over the other seemed to be completely a matter of caprice. And, therefore, we have to concede to Frost that most of us make decisions in life on the same basis. Frost makes a good point."
3. Comparison claim
Though two similar roads are presented in Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken[,]” the one ultimately chosen is the one that made all the difference.
"True enough, the only difference between the two roads (other than the very nebulous reference to one being less traveled) is that one made a difference in the life of the traveler when presumably the other one did not. But that is only through the benefit of hindsight. There is really no way to tell how the traveler’s life might have turned out differently had the first road been chosen. One might speculate that that the road less traveled might have taken the traveler through a village where he/she met a spouse and lived happily ever after. And one might speculate that had he/she taken the first road only doom and gloom might have been his/her lot. But there is no way to know that, and therefore no way to make a comparison, except in hindsight."
4. Evaluation claim
While the first three stanzas in Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken” clearly refer to two equally presented roads, the last two lines of the final stanza contradict by alluding to the road less traveled by.
"True. There’s a contradiction between the beginning of the poem and the ending. And there are more contradictions than that. They were both worn “about the same,” but one “wanted wear.” Then the traveler says he/she would keep “the first for another day,” while acknowledging he/she would never come back. Frost is messing with our minds."
5. Cause/Effect claim
It is because of the ambiguity in Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” that bring about the poems wide spread appeal.
"There is no way to determine what factors caused the traveler to take one road over another. There is only ambiguity here. In the leading stanzas, it is not clear which road is the one less traveled. It is only in the ending lines that Frost asserts that one was less traveled. And the line that really leaves us up in the air is the last one about the less-traveled road making all the difference. What difference? He doesn’t say. And, therefore, each reader is left to speculate—to make up his or her own story. That is the beauty of Frost’s poem."
So... where is Bob Hope on this Road when I need him??