“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”– Bilbo Baggins
There is a trail that runs behind my house. It is a tame neighborhood gravel path that serves joggers, kids on bikes, parents pushing baby carriers, dogs on leashes and the occasional rabbit, deer or coyote.
If I follow that trail up the hill and down the other side it connects to another trail, more popular, that leads to Garden of the Gods, the towers of red rock you can see all the way from the other side of town.
If I had the energy and time, that trail behind my house could take me into forests, to mountain tops and through green meadows of wild flowers.
As Bilbo said, you have to be careful about starting off on a journey because you don’t know where you will end up.
While I usually travel these trails alone, it is when I run or ride them with others that I really remember the journey. The shared experience, traveling with others and seeing the trail through their eyes, somehow makes it more real, more alive. Those shared adventures are powerful.
Many times while I am running a trail alone, I am remembering the times I was on that same trail with friends.
Trail races are like that, too. Lining up at the start of a race is an adventure with friends, people you admire, even if you don’t know them yet. They make it real, meaningful and fun.
The common struggle of a race, climbing a mountain, or finding our way through a forest, makes us friends. You don’t forget journeys with a friend.
So even when I have to run alone, knowing my friends are out on the trails somewhere makes it easier for me to get onto the path myself. I appreciate those who share their runs and adventures on Facebook or Strava because it creates a bond between us. “Here is this adventure I had, wish you had been with me. I’m sharing it with you.”
While I love being outdoors, exploring new places, it is being with friends that I enjoy most. The trails that we each run connect us physically, but there is a spiritual sharing too.
After all, Bilbo wouldn’t have gotten out his round door without help from a dozen friends.