Tuesday, 2 September 2014

The Things We Believe In

Shine a light 'til the dark sky is burning
Wolves are howling, fortune is turning

Orden Ogan - The Things We Believe In

I return from further intrepid adventure!

I wrote around this time last year about my experiences at Bloodstock Open Air 2013 and mentioned I would be heading there again due to the booking of Emperor. Well, just less than a month ago I made the trip again, although this time only for a day. It doesn't feel like a full year has passed.

Now, before anyone decides to try and be clever, I am well aware an outdoor music festival is not the most sensible of environments when you are perpetually unwell and I do take sensible precautions. I don't camp any more - I stay in a hotel nearby and as I drive anyway it's only a short hop there and back. I am usually to be seen with a backpack the size of a bungalow containing clothing for every eventuality (I'm British - we're good at changeable weather!), painkillers and all sorts.

Even with all of that I'm aware it's still a bit silly. The fact is music isn't about being sensible - passion for anything is never sensible, or it wouldn't be passionate.

There is something about the atmosphere of a festival that is incredibly difficult to explain to anyone who has never experienced it. Bloodstock Open Air is small enough to still feel very much like a friendly community affair, and that's a large part of its appeal for me. I've little interest in attending festivals much larger.

I believe I've spoken on here before about the need to do the things you love in spite of your illness where possible and my belief that this is a key part of mental well being in the fact of chronic illness. It doesn't have to be anything big, and it doesn't have to happen often. Once is better than nothing at all - but every little helps. Every little piece of rebellion is a poke in the eye to your condition, and I say more power to you.

I love Bloodstock. There have been times when I've wondered about whether to continue going, but upon attendance at each year's event I instantly remember all the reasons I go. I'm fortunate to have a lot of friends who attend each year so it becomes in large part a chance to see them all as well as a live music experience. The festival is something I believe in, and I believe in the sense of community I described.

(Seeing this in its entirety is something I won't forget in a hurry. Image from metal-archives.com)

This year I was lucky enough to see Emperor - a band I'd always assumed I'd missed my last opportunity to see with their 2006 London show. I could spend a whole post talking about how incredible I thought they were, but saying that they were well worth a long wait for will suffice for now. My very talented friend from Blazing Scarlet Cosplay made me an incredible cloak with the Emperor shield and lyrics from With Strength I Burn painted onto it which I think I might have threatened to sleep in had it not being for the pesistent rain during the set. Next time eh?

Compared with last year, the single day took a lot out of me. I'm not sure why this was so compared with the more successful full three days last year. I spent a lot of time sitting down - there are great grandparents who are regularly more sprightly than I was all day. However, given my feelings about seeing Emperor it was really a case of saving my spoons for their headlining set to close the day. Nods must go to Orphaned Land, Old Corpse Road, Conquest of Steel and Carcass for being entertaining in the mean time.

This is where sensible kicks back in. Each small bit of rebellion against the ever-present illness comes at a cost. For the moment, I think my attendance at Bloodstock is worth that price and more. I ensure to book time off work around it to help, but I am also aware that one day the price might be too high. For the moment I intend to enjoy it each and every time I am able to do so.

I have limits though. Next year's Wacken festival in Germany features Savatage and TSO - a combination I would give limbs and vital organs to be able to see. However, despite that hyperbole I won't give my overall health and that is the reality of a long festival and lengthy travel either side in another country for me. The price is just too high.

I'm devastated, particularly because I know so many people who managed to get tickets. You begin to understand however when living with an incurable illness that however large the benefit to mental well being, you must always balance pushing too far and too hard. As much as I joke, sensible is necessary. It's the thin line between coping and not and it's there to be ultimately respected.

In short, we all have limits. Chronic illness just means different ones to usual sometimes, and sometimes it means missing out on the things you love.

So, come next August I will sit at home with Wacken's livestream, a mug of tea and our future cat (who will be ruling the roost by then) and settle for being there in spirit. It's not the same, but it will do.

No matter the things we believe in most powerfully, until someone invents a means by which to obtain infinite spoons (hurry up, would you?) then this is the reality for the chronically ill. I don't point this out to garner sympathy - I've just spent most of this post talking about something I love which I'm lucky enough to still be able to do after all - but merely to illustrate.

No matter how positive an outlook, our limits are very very real.

Does anybody else have events/activities that they are willing to pay a price in health for? What are yours? 

Wishing you all many spoons xxx

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