These past weeks, my way of approaching life has immensely changed. In fact, I think it all started when Cédric started to seriously plan his caving expedition to Papua New Guinea. I was nervous to see him go. Not that I was especially worried about him getting hurt or anything like that, but I felt strangely frightened about being confronted with myself while he was gone. Living as a couple, in particular with a man as active as Cédric, is easy. We are constantly on the move, following a never-ending stream of projects. We deal swiftly and efficiently with things, in a manner that is sometimes too radical, even. This fear that I felt was thus related to the sudden necessity to deal alone with my time. It’s strange to say that, because it makes me sound so old.
On the other hand, I have always cherished my freedom.
I had the greatest feeling of freedom when I got my first car, with the help of a dear friend, and then drove to France with it. After that, I encountered great people and, progressively, built my life around them. These past years Cédric’s importance to me grew, as my love for him grew and because we have accomplished many important things together.
I don’t like to admit it, but I believe I have lost my original freedom. And with it, I have lost some passion, some sparks of folly. My life is rich, complex, still interesting… but not driven by folly anymore. I think it shows in the way I now behave, in my climbing, in my desire to settle down.
So, Cédric has been gone nearly six weeks now and, however corny this might sound, its the best thing that could have happened. Because of his total absence (they only have a satellite phone in case of an emergency), I have re-learned to empty, and free my mind.
The first week, I went to Spain with my good friend Mike Fuselier. It was the turning point. We discussed many subjects, but in particular my way of relating to others. He made me realize that I don’t always express myself properly, that I can be hurtful to others. When I first came to live in France, I lacked vocabulary in this strange and foreign language. Now that I speak French fluently, I have no excuse for not saying things in a nice way. I know that I can sometimes lack empathy, speaking too harshly and ending up saying very hurtful things. Mike also pointed out that, since I’ve become a well known climber, everything I say has much more impact than before. Mike’s words shook me up, but he knew I needed it that. He clearly opened my eyes on some aspects of my personality and it depressed me a little. But, after feeling rather low for a week, I took this as an opportunity for change thus suddenly freeing my heart and mind.
On the 5th of February I left for Andorra in my van to attend a conference and -after that- to let myself go with the wind, as a free women ! For about eight hours I sang at the top of my lungs to my new cd from the French band « la rue kétanou », until I ended up driving right into a big rock ; -one hour before the conference. Instead of panicking, I calmly changed the broken wheel and was able to make it on time for my talk. The next day, totally wrecked, I went to Montserrat to meet Marc le Menestrel, a man I knew mainly from our common passion for good wine. The time was ripe for me to stay with Marc and his two girls : for the next eight days I was in the right mood to feed from his wisdom. Thanks to Mike I was more sensitive, able to listen and learn from others. I discovered here a whole different world, the world of words, of poetry, in which it is important to say things in the right way.
At the beginning of my stay with Marc, I was different from my usual self. I was calm, a little scared to say anything stupid. More into action than big talk. « Los locos » de Barcelona took me on every one of their crags and gave me an opportunity to meet many great people. I was just so open and curious about others’ ways and views on life ! I have seldom seen such beautiful crags. So mysterious, so exceptional. I had the best routes of Montserrat served on a plater, I only had to climb and enjoy. I felt an intense and growing happiness, everything was going beautifully, simple things gained great value, I was living the moment at its best.
Marc also made me conscious about some aspects of me, as a climber. He pointed out that I often underestimate myself, and that I have lost the ambition to accomplish big climbing goals. Indeed, since I made the first female ascent of Silbergeier, I’ve been leading an easier life ; only climbing routes that suit me and that I can swiftly send. I still have a yearning to feel the excitement I felt working on Silbergeier, but can’t seem to get it anymore. There is less « dream » in my recent projects : once done, I move-on without much satisfaction or pride. I know I demand a lot of myself, but I truly think that I’m starting to loose faith in my capacity to accomplish big -crazy- things. My easy-going side has taken over these past two years and it took the right time and the right person to make me realize that.
Let us be mad and live the dream !
With this mindset I then went to Siurana and, as life demanded, I found a true and insane project : « La reina Mora », a hard classic of El Pati sector. On my first time on it, I felt exactly like when trying Silbergeier. I was hyped-up (I still am) : like a kid before Christmas, eager to discover the route’s character, and make progress on it. After spending four intense days working on it, I now feel blessed and I’m counting the hours before I can get back on the route.
Life is really something, it’s crazy how one can be so low and two weeks later so high… Whatever comes next, I’m looking forward to it !
Thank’s Jeff Arnoldi for the authentic translation in english!