I was fortunate growing up. Our little suburb was tucked out in rural nowhere, and the developer left a large chunk of wooded area in the middle to match the hundreds of acres of undeveloped woods between us and the closest interstate (I-85 represent!). With this setup, there was little reason to use the roads other than as a quick shortcut to the next trail the kids of the area made to get to a friends’ house. In these woods, forts were built, unofficial races were run, wars were fought, and young love sparked.
The woods are a magical place with untapped potential for the imagination. This is why I love trail running. This is also why I worry about trail runners.
I understand the draw to take your runs seriously. It’s a potentially dangerous scenario that you never even considered the damage you could incur as a child, and you still have responsibilities outside of the woods to keep in mind. From this necessary acknowledgment we must make, stem a plethora of adultizing to our passion. As rules and boundaries continue to grow trail running into a sport, we can become obsessed with pace, place, and a particular race. We also lose sight of the pure joy running in the woods can bring just from taking a moment to remember your running carefree in the woods.
For many, they can read the Bible and find comfort or perceived wisdom from passages such as 1 Corinthians 13:11, the “When I became a man, I set aside childish ways.”
I’ve never much enjoyed this line of reasoning in philosophy (theological or secular). While there are things we must understand as we grow, responsibilities that can no longer be taken care of for us but must be done by ourselves, the notion is far too combative to something integral to our path to contentment. I can be both childish and responsible, and often find much more joy when doing so.
I have yet to meet an adult that when pressed, won’t admit that they look into the mirror expecting to see a youthful interlocutor staring back at them – the younger, more childish, version of themselves, still ready to spark vibrancy in their life if unleashed.
There are so many of our daily rituals that society refuses to let us act odd or randomly when completing. We have to be precise, we have to be sober-minded, and we have to look at children as infantile in their methods of fun. Even though, when they get done running through the woods, no watch, no crowds, no concern whatsoever for anything other than the experience of the moment, they have the smile we’re all chasing down with each run.
“I’m in my room making cardboard castles with shoestring rope.
Soup spoon drawbridge, a tinfoil moat.
I’m still dreaming after all these years.” Watsky – Cardboard Castles