Yes, but there is no other option!
Recently I have been faced with reminders about how much of an outlier I am, that my life exemplifies a certain amount of crazy. By this, I mean that most people look at me and rightly assess that I have significant disabilities resulting from living with severe rheumatoid arthritis for several decades. Instead of living such an active life, perhaps I should be at home, resting. On it’s face, my life seems improbable, if not crazy or ill-advised.
Sometimes the questions people ask about my activity or the looks I get throughout an average day, make me ask myself: Am I crazy for doing what I do? For living this active life? For expecting that I live the life I wish?
For example, today I am exhausted and achy. I had the day off from work and was looking forward to getting some chores done. But I woke up with a headache and wasn’t that productive. Yet, here I am deciding to write instead of getting more rest.
But I simultaneously cannot help living the way I do, nor can I imagine anything else. Like a shark, I must keep moving. I must keep doing the things that are important to me, spending time with the people that matter, living a life that is full both of activity and meaning. Otherwise, I feel like I have given up, given in to the RA.
I have always been a stubborn person. Like a bulldog, I latch on and can’t let go. I stay late at my work because I made a commitment to myself to get it done. When I find an organization to care about, I’m all in. When we take a trip or make arrangements to spend time with family or friends, I want to do it even if I don’t feel well.
Having a purpose, seeking meaning in my life has driven me from a young age. I don’t just want to get things done, I want to contribute in ways that matter. I worry about running out of time and energy, constantly thinking about tasks that have not been completed. How can I keep my life fulfilling?
Perhaps it comes from my experience with physical decline. Even as a child, I recall losing joint motion, strength, and abilities. It felt like a door closing, then being cemented shut. My persistence could not break down these barriers, so I started considering how I spend my time and deciding how to expend the energies and abilities that I still possess.
The RA may have taken a lot of strength and abilities during the course of it’s progression, but I still have my own life to live. From the outside, I am sure that it does look crazy to other people. Perhaps they see the pain and exhaustion on my face and wonder ‘why is she doing this?’ However, what is crazy from a stranger’s perspective is just normal life for me.
I cannot change the fact that I have rheumatoid arthritis. I cannot change the damage it has caused, and cannot predict what else may come. But I will continue living a full, thriving life. My life mission is to enjoy, to do what I can, and make it matter with the people who matter to me.
So yes, I am crazy. And I know it. But I also know no other way of being and living. For me, the activity keeps me active and fighting the RA. It keeps me in the game and provides meaning for my life. Without this crazy sense of purpose, I wouldn’t know what to do with myself. The fight is what gets me up every day and keeps me moving.