The Road Diverged

Sarah Coghlan essays

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Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Robert Frost always summed this up so well for me, and I’d been here a few times before (subject choices at school, various degrees, still more unfinished degrees, job offers, career moves, the boy in front of me vs. the man he wasn’t, move to Sydney, refuse the boy I thought I wanted, a surprise pregnancy, the list goes on). And whilst the place I stood  each time the road diverged wasn’t a yellow wood, it was a yellow sun high above my head. And be one traveler, who was now part of a family, with other people to consider—three children, a husband, a beloved nanny, parents, sister, friends—long, long I stood.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

In 2008, Movember had been growing for five years, at a rapid pace, and so the founders decided it would be a great idea if my husband JC (one of the co-founders) and I moved to London, to set up Movember Europe. This was a big move. We’d been on the Gold Coast of Australia together for eight years, running a variety of our own businesses, from construction to market stands, from luxury yachts to property development. We had three daughters, 2, 4 and 8.

My Mum and step-father lived a few kilometers down the road, our house had a fabulous swimming pool that led to the clean, white sand beach and warm water from our back step. A brilliant and close group of friends, a fabulous lifestyle and yet…

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I think this has always been the saddest line for me, if I’m honest I doubted if I (we) should ever come back. You can't really go back to what something once was, because it doesn’t exist that way when you return. The moment is once, and you can't really keep the other for another day.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

It’s not a sad sigh, that I tell this one, it’s a sigh of wonder and awe of all that life has proposed so far.

That decision to move to the UK, to see if men wanted to be part of growing moustaches having fun, doing good, across other countries, languages, cultures has been extraordinary.

It is an honor to be part of an idea that is genuinely changing the world for men. It’s a “pinch yourself” kind of wonder when I think back to that first Movember, 30 guys, this funny idea—let's get together take polaroid photos of each other clean shaven, have a few drinks, reconnect at the end of the month back in Melbourne in the same bar and see what we look like with moustaches. That this, simple idea, with a huge amount of passion, drive, risk taking and work could today be responsible for more than half a billion dollars raised for prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health in men. That this vast amount of money is having a global impact across 21 countries with the work it is funding. That the more than 4.6 million participants since we started, have all individually been bold enough to stand out from the “norm” to ask the people around them to support their moustache growing, had conversations about their health, about being men, that they might not otherwise have had.

What’s made all the difference to me was when we invited my mother in-law to come join us and look after the girls full time. She is an extraordinary woman who has given us so much in the last six years, she has a relationship now with her three granddaughters that I believe goes beyond most grandparents, and they will love her, feel loved by her and respect and honor her their whole lives. She makes my life possible!

The girls are English, well more English than they are Australian. This was unexpected! They have lovely English accents and English ways, they’re scared of spiders, know what snow looks like, aren’t phased by the weather and have a different life, a totally different life to the one I knew at their age. And it is this thing of difference, this thing of trying things differently, that I am most definite about.

We’ve made a new life, it looks nothing like our other, warmer, antipodean life of the southern hemisphere, on the surface, and yet it might be fuller, richer and more than I expected it to be. Distance makes the old friendships stronger, gives you the chance to add an amazing group of new people, we’ve seen another world of seasons, culture, language and life. Both that morning equally lay…

Who am I—a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a team member, a person who’s passionate about men taking the topic of their health more seriously, outraged by the idea that they currently don’t, sure that the power of the moustache to change this is strong, and energized to have the opportunity to be a part of it.


About the Author

Sarah Coghlan

A moustache loving Mo Sista since 2003, Sarah today leads the UK campaign and the team that make it all happen. She is responsible for delivery of the campaign across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Before joining Movember in a formal capacity Sarah worked in construction project management and as a product manager. Sarah holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Laws) and is undertaking a Masters of Project Management.

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