Coronavirus Day 27- The Mirror Test

A throwback for an introspective post. Nick and I having pizza at 6th Comm Battalion circa 2012

Today is Good Friday, and according to some information on the Web about Lent, I’m supposed to fast on Good Friday. There are some guidelines. It’s not zero calories. What I gather is that I get two small meals, and one normal meal today. Also since it’s Good Friday and technically a school holiday, virtual school is out today. Thank God. This works out well with the fasting thing. Nick has been playing Fortnite with friends online all morning, and Penny woke up at noon!

I’m relieved to admit that I’m beginning to get used to normal life again. I don’t mean the Coronavirus stuff, although that isn’t too bad anymore. I mean that I am getting used to normal life after my mobilization. I’m amazed at how long this has taken—I’ve been home for over two months. I guess a seven month blast to the face doesn’t correct itself overnight. One sign of progress is that I have been able to shift my focus back to my real life (rather than my alternate-reality deployed life with the Marine Corps) and think critically about what I want to do with life, and what kind of life I want for our family.

Now, I’m in my mid-thirties. Steve and I have been married 12 years. My kids are school-aged. I should have had this figured out by now. The truth is that I haven’t. Since I left the Marine Corps in 2013 I’ve been bumbling around trying to go back to school, launch new careers in education, business, non-profit, and the FBI, write books, start blogs, learn web design, etc. I recently made my last ditch effort to re-birth myself by applying to return to active duty. I was denied. So where does this all leave me?

The way I see it, I have two choices: I can continue to try and make something happen and risk arriving to the end of the next seven years disappointed with not a whole lot to show. Or, I can commit. I can decide, finally, on who I am, and (more importantly) who I’m not. Because reality is that I don’t live in a vacuum. The things I do—the opportunity cost for my time and attention— have an effect on my spouse and kids. For their sake as well as my own, I need to commit and grow up.

The question then becomes, what do I really want? This is hard to answer. I’m reading this book, The Daily Stoic, and the Stoics say that the internal war in answering that question is usually a result of conflicting desires. Finding the answer to that question requires one to reconcile the conflicting desires and tease out the truth. It requires real, soul-searching work.

If one really wants to tease this out, one can turn to The Mirror Test. I just learned what The Mirror Test is, but it’s simple. It involves looking in the mirror and being really really honest about what you think you want, and what you actually do. For example, I want the prestige and intellectual growth that comes from a real career, but I don’t want the burden of juggling that with my duties as a mom. My failure to reconcile this conflict has led me to waste my time. I spin my wheels by half-heartedly applying for jobs and starting graduate programs that I don’t finish. Applying The Mirror Test I can say to myself, “Hmm, it turns out I actually don’t want to work.” With this newfound self-awareness, I can go about my days in peace, pursuing what I actually want (intellectual growth through reading and writing and Professional Military Education, maybe?) and not wasting my time and energy applying for jobs I don’t want.

A smart dude in glasses once said, “We can lie to other people all we want, but we shouldn’t lie to ourselves.” This was in reference to a missed flight, but I think it applies to life as well. Maybe we’re all a little bit full of shit.