A few morning a week, I go trail running with a group of buddies. We have done this together for over 15 years now. And no… I’m not a great runner even though I have had plenty of practice.
Our early morning trail running gets us out into the beautiful outdoors at the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Las Vegas and starts our day on the right foot. It also gives us a chance to talk and process what is going on in life. We call it “trail therapy”.
Side note: The next time you visit Vegas, get off of the strip and discover the real treasure that we have here.
On our run days, we meet at the trailhead at 5:30 am. This time of year it is still dark at that time in the morning which requires that we run with headlamps until the the dawn breaks and it is light enough to navigate the trail without them.
Shorty into the run this morning, the batteries in my headlamp went dead, so there I was, running in the dark. Pitch dark with only the stars to light the trail. No moon. No street lights. Nothing. My two buddies. Stacy and George, who were about 10 feet ahead of me, had their headlamps working so I was able to see a short distance ahead by the fallout of their beams, however immediately in front of me where my feet were meeting the trail was completely dark. I have run this particular trail, Oak Creek, hundreds of times and know where every rock and crevice is. I could literally run this trail with my eyes shut, so not having a working headlamp was no big deal… or so I thought.
That was until I ran into something that was knee high. This obstacle planted me face down in the dirt. What I fell over was an unseen and unexpected obstacle in my path that I wasn’t able to successfully navigate around because I didn’t see it in the dark. Even though I knew this trail like the back of my hand, I didn’t know it was there where my next foot fall was supposed to go.
Isn’t this like life?
We think we know the way. “I can do this with my eyes closed” we claim blatantly. Until something that we didn’t see or expect in our path trips us up. Then we find ourselves struggling to right ourselves and move on down the path. Sometimes we are able to just brush ourselves off. Other times we aren’t so lucky and come away scratched and bruised, or worse… broken.
This morning I was pretty lucky. Only my ego was hurt… but I was able to brush that off along with the dirt that was on my hands and face. My buddies turned around to see what had happened (Maybe it was the string of swear words out of my mouth that tipped them off that something was amiss. Or maybe is was the thud in the dirt). As they turned, their headlamps illuminated the dark to reveal that I had fallen over Sophie, George’s black labrador retriever, who had stopped abruptly ahead of me to sniff something on the trail.
My buddies then insisted that I run in the middle of them with one of them illuminating the path ahead and one of them lighting the path behind me. As a result, I was able to easily navigate where I was going and to see where I had just been.
No matter what path we are on in life, we will have obstacles to overcome. Some of these obstacles we will see, others we won’t and they will take us by surprise. Even if these obstacles trip us up, there are those around us that will help us up and brush us off. There are those around us that have the ability to illuminate the path ahead of where we want to go and help us get there. There are those around us that have the ability to light the path behind and help us learn important lessons from the ground that we have covered.
Our individual challenge is to illuminate the path for others who are also on the trail in life with with us whenever we can, and to humble ourselves enough to allow others to light our path as well… believe me, those black retrievers in the dark will trip you up every time!