Can vs. Love, Part 2

Not too long ago I wrote a post about the challenges of making decisions and sacrifices in life because of RA–Doing What You Love vs. Doing What You Can. I wrote about a road trip I took to Denver to see one of my favorite bands play a show there. Despite better judgment, I suppose, I said, what the heck, and decided to go with my friend on the trip. However at the time I was pretty broke, in a lot of debt (mostly medical), and not in the best physical shape (which wouldn’t be helped by hours spent sitting in a car and then hours standing and walking on my swollen ankles). But what the heck, I did it and I’m glad I did it. Since writing that post, I haven’t gone on any other “crazy” trips or anything adventurous like that but I’m still determined to not let RA stop me from doing things in life–especially fun things.

One new fun thing I’ve been up to lately is taking photographs at concerts for a music website called Reviler. It’s exciting and something that I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve even fantasized for a long time about doing it as a career, if possible (I always figured it would be impossible though, for some reason).  I love music, I love concerts, and I love photography. Perfect, right? Well, almost. The exciting and fun thing about shooting these shows is that I get free tickets and photo passes from the bands or artists’ management companies so that I can take photos right up front by the stage, usually in the photo pit. I’m so close to the musicians that I can reach out and pinch them, or to the dismay of jealous teenagers, get sweat on by some famous indie-rock bands. Awesome! The not-fun thing is that I’m required to stand for long periods of time while holding heavy photo equipment. This would be tolerable if I didn’t have RA, but I do have it. And I have two bad ankles and a stubbornly painful right foot. Usually by the end of a show my feet are burning with pain and my damaged right wrist feels like it’s about to snap off. I then heave my large heavy camera bag onto my shoulder and limp through the venue and out to my car. As the adrenaline wears off and the pain really sets in I think, oh I shouldn’t be doing this. But I want to! I really want to. How can I make it work? There must be a way. Right now the photos I’m taking for Reviler is all unpaid volunteer work. But I’m hoping that this can be a stepping stone to help me land “real” paying jobs, or even to just start getting my photos published in more publications. It’s a good way to build my portfolio and I’m having a blast doing it. But too bad I can’t do it sitting down or have a personal assistant with me to lug all of my equipment crap around. Or, you know, just not have RA.

Speaking of physically-demanding jobs, I decided to give up on the idea of being a wedding DJ as a fun way to earn extra money. I wrote about wanting to try that in my previous “Can vs. Love” post, and since then I realized that it’s just physically too difficult. I shadowed one of the company’s DJs one evening at a wedding reception, and I helped him carry in equipment and set up everything and then observed what he was doing the whole night so that I could eventually do it on my own. I had a great time and I still think it would be a lot of fun to be a wedding DJ, but realistically I don’t see how I could handle carrying and moving all of that heavy, bulky equipment on my own for each wedding. Lifting speakers, moving tables, setting up lights–I just can’t do it. So, feeling let down and a bit like a failure, I gave up the wedding DJ “dream” for now. The good thing is that it’s not really a career dream or passion of mine, like photography is, so I’m not that broken up about it. But still, not being able to do something because of my RA is depressing and demoralizing. It’s another reminder of the control this disease has over my body and my life, and I hate that.

And in another sad news update, I also gave up the idea of hopping on a plane to Europe for my friend’s wedding in Sardinia in September. The thought of missing that experience was really disappointing, but I decided to make the responsible decision to save money and save myself the physical and mental stress of preparing for and taking a huge trip like that. Part of me was in a panic, thinking–I can’t miss out on this! Life is short, I have to do it! But another part was also in a panic worrying about the financial, emotional and physical costs of taking such a trip at that time. To try to console myself, I think about how there will be more chances to take trips to see my much-loved and much-missed friends abroad sometime in the future. Despite RA pain and any other obstacles, I always find a way, because it’s important to me.

Working towards a career as a photojournalist is also very important to me and I’m not going to let RA get in the way of me achieving my goals. The work I’ve been doing for Reviler lately is so much fun; I absolutely love it. I know I need to continue to fight for the things I really love in life and to also remember to accept and forgive myself when things don’t work out as I had hoped.

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