When one steps up to the base of that new project, one is not certain whether they will do it or not. There is a probability that we can lean into based on our experience. If you often climb that particular grade, chances are high you will be able to do it again. But when you are challenging yourself on that next level, that is where the stakes become much higher. And when the stakes are higher, you have to lean into more discomfort, Greater effort and mindfulness is applied. You may even turn to the person who has climbed it for more information on how you might be successful.
This discomfort is actually something most climbers seek. It is a part of the game we love to tackle. The mystery of unlocking the route or boulder problem with the tools we have IS what makes us want to do it. We have a goal, we see the pathway and we believe in our ability. As defined by Brene Brown in her book, The Atlas of the Heart, these elements are the trilogy of hope. And so the projecting begins. We try over and over again, figuring out new ways to do moves, developing our physical ability and bringing our enthusiasm every time.
In order to complete this route successfully we need to bring with us the trilogy - the goal, the path and belief in our ability. For someone of use, the goal can be quite far reaching - Tommy Caldwell set a goal for the Dawn Wall. Tommy applied effort to the same rock face for seven years and countless tries, with a strong belief in his own ability to master it.
For others, we only choose the routes we can do in a few tries before our belief in our ability begins to be shaken. A shorter climber perhaps falling prey to the belief the move is just too reachy. Or perhaps another acknowledging they just don't have the passion to try that hard. They acknowledge they just doesn't know the pathway to success.
Alex Honnold set a goal to solo El Capitan and spent years in preparation, memorizing the path. With each roped effort, he cultivated the belief in his ability to be successful. For some, like me, I can often see the path, but I deeply struggle to believe in my ability to execute what is needed to be successful. In my early fifties, I began to experience menopause. The insomnia, the brain fog and simple little injuries when I would try super hard. My shoulder would feel impinged, a carpel bone in my wrist dislocated, then my ankle. Trying to do a little barefoot Fitness Marshall I subluxed a bone in my foot. Add to this a concussion sustained while gardening and headaches that roll in with atmospheric pressure changes, still three years later, and my belief in my bodies' ability is shaken. Oh... and the change in metabolism... let's just not go there.
To be strong enough requires greater work and attention to joint stabilization, patience and a greater time commitment and time seems to be a commodity I must spend very wisely these days. I can no longer off-the-couch big hairy audacious goals. The goal needs to be smaller and for me, that does not drive the inspiration in the same way.
Resilience is the antidote.
Resilience is learning to set goals in an arena where I can control elements. Rather than I want to send that route. The goal is I want to put in 90-100% effort on that route.
Resilience is letting go of outcomes and focusing on what I can do, learn, how I show up. I will try X number of times. I will do this for 40 minutes, then move on.
Resilience is reframing. I could feel self-pity, anger, a sense of loss at the very real aging experience. OR I can reframe... this is my time to learn how to recover, how to take care of my body, my mind. This is the stage of life to be free of expectation of hard grade ascents and a time to mentor others. Enjoy the wonder of the array of emotions and stories being created with each climber's experience. Those stories are creating connection.
Resilience is asking for help. I am a coach and it has been a hard pill to swallow to recognize I am not the expert in the room when it comes to aging. My dad passed away just before the first Covid lock down. The mortality with which we all exist was front and centre for me over these past few years. Hopelessness leaned in and whispered, we all die. My response was, so what is the point then? As my hopelessness collected, I finally reached out for help. I was fortunate to reach in the right direction. The mentor I chose said the right things to assist me in reframing, in aligning to self-care, and refocusing my goals. Most importantly, the relationship keeps me accountable.
Resilience is partnered with humility. If it is not, it is bravado - armour designed to protect oneself from the opinions of others.
Resilience is slowing down. It is stepping out of the game to take in the big picture.
COVID just keeps pulling the rug out from under us.
Offering all of us an opportunity to develop our own resilience.
First it was just not getting the disease, or hoping you were one of those not impacted strongly by the virus. Governments came in with testing and masks, financial supports for businesses forced to shutter, people forced out of employment. We brought our resilience, our projecting attitude - keep applying skillful effort to get through this crux on the route of life. Using this tenacity of spirit, distraction and goals in life we could control, we surfed through the waves of Delta. Some of us riding tall on the board and others face planting in the sand as a wave crushed over us. Still the mantra was, 'this too shall pass."
Vaccines, like a new pair of climbing shoes, gave us new hope for better footwork to navigate the project. With case counts declining and symptoms less severe, motivation to get to the end, which seemed now in sight rose. Then came Omicron with it's faster spread, though lower severity, Months into record high hospitalizations, governments changed their sequence, stopped counting cases and moved the focus to hospitalizations, 3-ply masks, and boosters.
Our hope has perhaps faded. The goal is no longer clear. The path is more and more daunting. Our belief in the ability complete this route is dwindling. Perhaps you are standing on the precipice of hopelessness. Consider this very important idea...
Be the person you want others to see.
You are who you choose to become.
Someone once said to me, 'No one will remember who did the second ascent of any route, maybe not even the first. But you will always remember what you walked away from."
You will remember your choices. Choose the things you need to choose resilience. Please.
Writing, journalling, podcasting... it's all about sharing the journey.