So, a member of the forum suggested I write a blog about this, and I consider that a pretty good idea. I'm not particularly looking for advice, just want to document how I feel at this point in life and writing often helps me put things in perspective. Of course that doesn't mean honest opinions are not welcome.
The root of this all? I am joining the Marine Corps, but first some context.
I am currently scraping by here in the big city of LA, recently had a great job I loved burn down. Even before then I had barely been able to afford food and rent. Sadly the only job that has accepted me is the local Mcdonalds... I have done about a hundred applications and have had no luck so far. I would branch out further, but I can't afford a vehicle at the moment with which to drive to work. The bus is only so good around here. I want to go to school but could not possibly afford it, nor even find a way to get there that would be less than a four hour round trip. Even then, assuming I did attend school, how would I be able to balance that kind of travel and class time with the 40 hours a week I need to work to support myself on minimum wage? I'm feeling stuck is what I'm getting at, and have been since I moved to LA.
I'm decently at peace with my situation, but that doesn't mean my resolve to reach my dreams in life has been smothered. It's still there, I'm still only twenty, I still have passion and cannot envision an unsuccessful future for myself. But my motivation is slipping, I cannot deny that. I want to one day open my own dojo. Mixing my daoist philosophy with a gentle martial art meant for protection and not aggression. Moving my body is the only thing in life that has ever given me pleasure. I'd like to use that to create a wider sky so to speak. Even if it is just for the students in my dojo, I would like to create a sanctuary where people don't place obstacles in front of each other, but instead help each other up. This has been my dream for a very long time.
I want to be able to stand on my own to feet for once, to help my family members, to be able to take my mother somewhere nice on her birthday and provide for her when she is not doing well. The marines is my ticket to an education and training. It is a way out of scraping by each day, maybe even a way to see more of the world. I'm going to strive to be a martial arts instructor in the corps. But the reality is that I am going against my political beliefs, and my morals. Essentially I am abandoning my principles and going against the grain of my dream. I do not believe in any US war since WW2. I know I may very well end up on a battlefield for a corporate interest, unfairly suppressing the weak. I know I may die a senseless death, even though I have every intention of surviving. In my heart, despite all this, there is a part of me that has always wanted to join the corps. Not due to the propaganda or some romanticized view of them. But because I want to know what it feels like to be inches away from death. To feel truly alive for once. To be pushed to my limit and then go even further than that.
I am pretty set on my decision, and it was a rather torturous one to make. My family and friends all made sure of that, having something of an intervention. I know they mean well and only do it out of care and concern, but it has become tiring hearing their dissent everyday. It has even introduced an element of tension between us that wasn't there before. They have basically stopped just short of calling me a murderer, which is not an easy thing to hear from those so close to you.
Someone posed this question to me recently -
"The thing is, in this world, we don't have a lot to rely on. Material things come and go, relationships, security, they're all fleeting. The only things we can generally rely on are ourselves. And even they are unreliable; our health, emotions, passions can all be fleeting. What does that leave? Only really our standards, our moral code, our principles. If we don't stay true to our inner core, what will hold us up?"
I believe they aren't wrong. What will hold me up? I believe I am strong enough to not lose myself in those four years, mature enough to stand by my ideals through whatever awaits me. But am I really that strong? I have always wanted to be strong, it is the quality I value most in my life. I have put myself through hell training my body to perfection. But more than that, I want to be strong in my kindness, my compassion, my patience, in all areas of my life. To do that I have to first master myself. But if I abandon the things that define me so easily for my own benefit perhaps the reality is that I am very weak. Maybe I am selfish, because in some sense I am taking an easier route for my own benefit. Maybe I am a fool because I cannot be satisfied with what I have. If my heart is in chains, does it matter where I go if I cannot unravel them? I don't know, but I wont turn back now. I suppose soon enough I'll find my answers, or perhaps there will only be more questions.