For the past two and a half years, Morrisons in Fort William have stocked a delightful looking raspberry cheesecake, placed according to the conventions of supermarket choice architecture, right in my line of sight as I head for the milk. I can’t miss it, every time.
I love raspberry cheesecake, but as a climber who isn’t naturally light enough for the grades I want to climb, I feel that I must set limits, and something like that - an out and out treat - is the most obvious target. This is why I’m two stones (28 pounds) lighter than I was at 16 years of age and can climb many grades harder too. Don’t get me wrong, I eat plenty (and I mean plenty!) when I know I’m using the energy.
Since I first spotted it, I’ve been tempted every time I’m in there to buy it and munch it. But I didn’t. At first I thought “when I do the Ring of Steall Project, I’ll buy that cheesecake”. I sent the project, but not the cheesecake. Then, I thought, “when I finally top out on Don’t Die, I’m having that bloody cheesecake out of Morrisons”. But I didn’t. Eventually, it was “When I do Echo Wall, this time I’m definitely eating the cheesecake”, and then “when I’ve edited the film” etc. You get the picture.
I’ve picked it up at least four times, and had it in my basket and put it back twice. What’s going on here? Nothing seems to be big enough to deserve the damn cheesecake. Today I picked it up and stared at it again, and put it back, unable to think of anything I’d done that even remotely deserved to break the previous cheesecake denial.
What the hell do I have to do to earn the cheesecake?
I’ve done this more and more over the past 8 years. When I did my first E9 in 2001, I went out with my mates from Uni, got steaming drunk, went clubbing and woke up to a brain melting hangover the next afternoon. Later, when I was repeatedly throwing myself from the last move of Rhapsody, my mate Steve Gordon speculated that the only celebration worthy of doing the world’s first E11 would be to go out and take 11 E’s. We negotiated it down so that I would settle for 11 pints and he would take the 11 E’s. But when I did it, I stayed at home for three months and learnt what HTML was and built up this website.
Richard told me if I ever managed to drag myself up a 9a, we were definitely, definitely hitting the town for a hardcore night. But there was training to be done, and good conditions and bla bla.
You may ask yourself, am I going somewhere with this? The answer I’m afraid, for the moment, is not really. This post is an open question I suppose: Just what deserves the cheesecake???
I’ve echoed the thoughts of many others before in stressing the importance of the process of what you do and finding enjoyment in that, rather than the result at the end. So in one sense, celebration of successes is a bit meaningless. Why celebrate when the enjoyable part (the thing you are celebrating) is over. Celebrate by finding the next thing. Obviously that only counts for certain types of things - especially very individual successes like in certain types of climbing. Where things are about people sharing or collaborating, it’s different!
So maybe I’ve got my thinking the wrong way round? Is the finding of a new hard project worthy of the cheesecake, rather than the completion of it? In the next month I am going to try a project I expect to be quite a lot harder than Echo Wall. If that proves the right thing for me to dedicate myself to, should I head for Morrisons? I might have just persuaded myself…
Full disclosure: I looked at the cheesecake today not so much for me, but as I was buying food to make Claire a nice meal on her return from a trip tomorrow. Now before you accuse me of letting my own weird and eccentric ways spill over onto those around me, I should stress that after returning the cheesecake to the shelf, I bought a packet of Rice Krispies and a big pack of no less than eight Mars Bars to make Rice Krispy squares (both our favourite).