I’m told the conversation went something like this:
Husband: “I could really get into this climb!”
Climbing partner: “Is this route going to be your new project this summer?”
Husband: “I think so.”
Partner: “What about trips, or are you going to be hanging around here a lot?”
Husband: “Dawn’s not climbing much, and we’re not planning any big trips this season.”
Partner: “Oh yeah… Dawn’s project is having a baby.”
Yep, no climbing projects for me right now. In fact, after an excellent climbing comeback two seasons ago, I didn’t really do any projects last summer, either. I was focused on starting formal fertility treatment, embarking on my “one long pregnancy“, and I had to get used to all the additional hormones. They interacted with my body, mind, and other important bodily hormones (like cortisol and thyroid hormone), which took some adjustments. This summer I do not plan on leading routes or attempting climbs at my hardest level… I will hopefully get pregnant again soon and stay pregnant, which means I won’t want to take any sort of climbing or bouldering falls. And with the extra weight and fatigue associated with both my present and future state, I just don’t feel like trying that hard on a route anyway.
Ah, but the old Climbing Project, affectionately called “The Proj” or “The Rig” if you’re a real hipster… The term is even used as a verb (“I’m projecting that route over there”). For people who have been rock climbing or bouldering for a long time, project climbing is where it’s at. I wrote about the subject here and how it teaches other valuable life lessons. Choosing a route you aren’t sure you can climb cleanly, working out all the movement sequences, and then finally “sending” it brings a huge feeling of accomplishment. And the journey along the way is always full of learning experiences, both physical and mental. There can be setbacks, wobblers, injuries… or on the flipside you can see huge gains in strength, control of fear, and mental fortitude!
Projecting is basically akin to setting a lofty, often long-term goal. Because if it’s not hard for you, i.e. if you do the climb in a few tries, it wasn’t really a project. Some days you think of quitting the project, because everything feels so hard. People piss you off because they make your project look easy, and you may interpret them as belittling your massive efforts. (One of my life lessons: there’s always going to be someone who will use your project as their warmup!) Other days, you make great improvements and get a surge of motivation. Progress on the moves can be undulating, with huge gains one day and then nothing for the next several attempts.
And you dream about it. You sometimes wake up in the middle of the night wondering if you’re ever going to have success. It’s stressful, but it’s the good kind of stress: the kind that breathes life into your otherwise (mostly) predictable life. The kind that humbles you and makes you check your ego, because the only way you will find happiness while projecting is to enjoy the journey and not focus on the outcome or on what other people are doing/thinking/etc.
So, yeah, having a baby is my project. It certainly fits the bill; it’s obviously turning out to be a technically difficult, time-consuming endeavor. I’m not sure I can send this project, and I wake up in the night thinking about it (wondering if my body is strong enough to carry a pregnancy, wondering if I will be a good enough mom)… And to remain sane in the process, I have to focus only on me, not on others and what they’re doing. That means no eyeing with jealousy the beautiful pregnant ladies walking around in their protuberant glory or the cute baby-wearing families ambling about at the farmer’s market. Success will lie in the process and the undulating path.
Do you think maybe I miss project climbing? 😉