Strength of Will

Sometimes I just can’t think of a good story.
(I know, it’s the best hook you’ve ever read—ever)

Honestly, I have been trying to figure this one out. It’s an odd situation that I think about now and again. If you don’t want to keep reading, that’s fine. However, you might find it fun to keep going.

So, in 2011 the Green Lantern movie hit the screens. The Green Lantern has always been one of my favorite comic book heroes. I have always liked the ‘real’ heroes. Heroes that could be. Batman. Iron Man. Punisher. Those kinds of guys. The ones that could be (regardless of tech). In my book, Green Lantern is one of those guys. He was just a man that was given a gift of a magic ring, but he himself… He himself was a man without fear. That’s what helped him. But, the power of the ring is given strength based upon the willpower of the wielder. The stronger the will, the stronger the Green Lantern. Now that’s cool.

Image of Hal Jordan reciting the Green Lantern Oath curated here.

I wanted to be like that. I wanted an undaunting will. One that could never be broken. The Green Lantern is part of why I became a teenage superhero. Now, if you are familiar with my blog you already know that I’m Batman. So, you may be asking yourself, “How could the Green Lantern inspire you?” To which I would respond, “Were you not paying attention?! The strength of will!”

Early on—thanks to an older brother—I learned a little bit about willpower. Later, the Marine Corps assisted with that. So, again, if you are wondering what this all has to do with anything. I’ll tell you:

Green Lantern had hit the theaters and my wife and I were going on a date one Friday night to see it. I was at home and awaiting her to finish work and then pick me up so we could head to the theater. While I waited, a knock came at my front door. It was Erich. At this time, he and his family were in a nearby town and his job required him to spend some time in a company branch that happen to be in our town. So, he would usually stop by on his way home. Today was not different—for him.

I was upstairs when the knock on the door sounded, so I opened the door and greeted my friend. He entered. We talked. I needed to walk the dog. He offered to come with me. I leashed up the dog. We walked outside and around the block. We returned home and then sat at my kitchen table and talked some more. My oldest child needed a ride to a friend’s house. So, the three of us loaded up in my car and then drove to her friend’s house to drop her off. Once we arrived she got out and Erich and I returned to my home. On the way back to my house Erich said, “I just noticed that you’re wearing a mask. Have you been wearing it the whole time?”

To be ready for the movie, I had donned my Green Lantern teeshirt (with the Lantern Corps emblem emblazoned upon the front), a Green Lantern mask, and light-up Green Lantern ring (the last two were children’s toys that came in a set—but I didn’t care then and still don’t now). When I had first opened my door to Erich I had been wearing them all. I had even turned on my ring so that it was alight. We had sat and talked. Eye contact was made. We looked each other in the face! Side by side with my dog we had traveled around my neighborhood. I drove my daughter to her friend’s house (as a note: all her friends noticed, and had asked her about my attire. she explained why I was dressed that way and they thought I was cool), Erich sat next to me in the front seats. Almost an hour later I finally get, “Are you wearing a mask?” Seriously?

“You just noticed? It’s been forty-five minutes. Almost an hour. And you’re now just noticing it?” Was my response.

“Well, to be fair, it’s you. The things you do really don’t phase me anymore.”

“Dude! It’s on my face. A mask on my face.”

“If it makes you feel any better I saw the ring.”

“Because it lights up?”

“Because it lights up.”

It was the line: [I]t’s you. The things you do really don’t phase me anymore.

That threw me. Was I that guy? The guy that does stuff for shock value? The weirdo that is willing to make a spectacle of himself just for the sake of spectacle? The one who needs to be the center of attention? The conclusion I came to was a little hurtful: Maybe. Sometimes.

Truly, I don’t like to be the center of attention. That being said, I don’t mind if I am noticed—on occasion. It is nice to have someone say to me, “Good work.” or, “Hello.” or, “I really appreciate all that you do.” I don’t want to have a banquet held in my honor. However, I wouldn’t feel bad if someone said, “Hey, we’d like to hold a banquet in your honor. Would that be okay?” No. No, it would not. But, it would be nice to have been thought of in that way. It would be nice to have people want to have me be the center of attention, but I wouldn’t want to be there. Not long, anyway—if at all.

I could handle it for a bit, then I would need out. I enjoy being goofy and silly with my buddies. I feel good knowing I have helped someone. It is nice to know that I have been a positive influence for somebody, somewhere. And if humor gets me there, so be it. I like that. That means I’ve done did good (I know what I wrote). At some point, at least. I just don’t like it pointed out. But, it is nice to have it recognized.

This is not where I wanted to go with this. My short-story-made-long point is kinda this: See, I have a new job opportunity. And I don’t know how I feel about it.

If you had asked me, when I was a child, what I wanted to be when I grew up, the choice of ‘teacher’ wouldn’t have even been on the options list (I had other ideas). This only really came about because of the Boy Scouts. I had been hired for what I had thought to be a one-time gig. I just needed a job. My former employment had been a winter-seasonal one and I had recently gotten married. I needed work. However, by the time the summer was over I was pretty hooked on what I was doing. I enjoyed it. I had received good training from inspiring leaders and I wanted to give back. So I did. For about 12 years.

During that time I had completed my undergraduate studies and had been offered a chance to teach at my university. I was loving it. Eventually, I also began to work with my local school district as an aid within the special education department. I love what I do. I get to help make a difference in the lives of children. I get the biggest kick out of seeing my students do well and getting to interact with them. Kids are great. Also, I love what I do at the university. At that age, they are the responsible party. I don’t have to do as much for them. They are capable of doing it themselves. Both jobs have their pros and cons. Sadly, the pros of the one are the cons of the other. There is no clear winner.

Over the years, my wife has asked me which job I enjoy more. I always start with one, and then, within a few minutes, I have no idea which one I would rather do for the rest of my life. I just really enjoy teaching. And, I’m told I’m pretty good at it. So, when one of my bosses passed along a job notice to me I was a little confused.

The job wasn’t for a teaching position. It was for a director position. At first, I was like, “Wait… Why am I being sent this?” Then I quickly realized it was because he knew I would probably like the job, and do well in it. Aso, it’s where the bulk of my education is at. Using my education… Who would have thought…? Over the past few years, I have also been talking to my wife about wanting a new challenge. But is this change what I really want? I like the comfort of knowing what my day is going to hold for me. I like the routine. I like to have the same days off as my children… But, I only have one left at home…

I am getting older and certain things hurt to do (it’s the miles, not the years). I love my kids at the middle school, and I enjoy working with my students at the university, but… To get to sit down each day and do the same thing—even though each day would be different—every day… I kinda get excited about that prospect. But, if I am being honest, I’m scared.

I don’t like change.

Change can be hard.

Change can be scary. It’s unknown.

Change can also be good.

It can develop personal growth.

Change can make you a better you.

I’ve been struggling with this because I used to be fearless. I used to be like the Hal Jordan Green Lantern that wasn’t afraid and had the strongest of wills… I used to. Life has beaten me around a bit—at times. Some of my will has weakened. Some of my resolve has gone. I don’t like admitting that because to me… to me that says, “You’re weak. You’re a failure.” I don’t like that. I’m a U.S. Marine. We don’t lose. This hurts. This potential life change is… Well, it’s potential change.

My wife is a wonderful support and believes in me. To her, it doesn’t matter if I get the job or not. She just wants me to be happy. Although, she has admitted that the increase in pay wouldn’t hurt her feelings (mine either—truth be told). I needed some advice on this and so I called a friend that has been in a similar spot as this: Erich. He reminded me of a few things that I needed a reminder of. One of which was, “Just because they offer you the job, doesn’t mean you have to take it.”

He’s right.

I had been so focused on the concept of if they offered me the job I had to take it. I had been in a strange mindset of… Well, let me see if this helps: Okay, let’s say that every day for lunch you eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Then, you have a time where someone offers you a different kind of sandwich—they just don’t tell you what kind. Yeah, a different sandwich might be nice but, what if it’s something nasty like tuna fish (that stuff is disgusting). Sure, the tuna fish sandwich is different, but not better. It’s worse. Far, far worse. And, you didn’t know you were getting tuna fish until you had taken a bite and were chewing it up. But, the new sandwich might be like a roast beef with special mustard on an Italian seasoned bread. Mmmm… Yeah…

So, I’m terrified and excited. This might be a chance to start something fantastic, or just another direction for my life with just as much joy and wonder as I currently have. Not better. Not worse. Just different. But, in all this, besides the quiet support of my wife, I also know I have God. I know He is there for me. With me. Helping me. Watching over me. Providing for me. I know He has a hand in my life because I choose to let Him in. As such, this might be His way of saying, “I’ve heard you. Here you go. This’ll be nice.” And that would be awesome.

I am reminded of my favorite moment in the life of Jesus Christ. It is the moment in Gethsemane when Christ asks God, “…O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” This does not show weakness or cowardice to me. He is just asking for another way, if possible, if not, fine. This shows—in my mind—his greatest moment of strength. For Christ chooses to go forward knowing full well that this next step is going to be exceptionally brutal. And yet, he does it anyway. That is courage. That is willpower. That is beautiful. Because He did that for me, and for you.

This may not be making sense for some of you. For others, you might be like, “Yup. I totally get it.” And, I’m glad for that. So, here’s the deal as of now: I’m getting my application together. I am going to apply for the job and hope I get it. If I don’t, I’m not worse off than I already am. If I do, well, I guess I’ll have to let you know about that change.

I know that change can be hard.

However, the first law of the universe that my father taught me is that “The only thing constant is change.” He was a wise man.

My Green Lantern mask resting upon my skull, Hal.

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