Yesterday I took the Combat Fitness Test (CFT) with my reserve counterparts. Today I am feeling the results of my sedentary desk job. The CFT is a new Marine Corps development for assessing fitness levels and in my 17 + years as a Marine this has got to be one of the better innovations in that area I have seen.

I am a hurting unit. Those younger guys were out there making this look easy, and even on paper it looks easy. Even the individual events by themselves look like a piece of cake. Put them all togeather though, and you have a recipe for a challenge.

What has this got to do with Ethics, Concentration, and Wisdom?

As a Marine staying in shape is really a question of ethics. If you choose to let your body go to the point where you can’t pull your load than you are letting your fellow marines down and that is just not exactly a kind or compassionate thing to do and could put yourself or another in harms way.

It takes concentration and attention and even wisdom to be able to assess yourself and be able to know where you need work and then we fall back again to ethics to actually work it.

Some other thoughts regarding wisdom relate to my impending forced retirement. When I first came into the Marines I had the thought that I would stick around in the Marine Corps until it would not allow me to. I always had thought I would do 30 years. It is looking more and more (baring a promotion) that the up or out policy will have me retired at 20 years of service, just 2 years and eight months away. I keep telling myself not to cling to this but I am nearing the threshold of spending nearly half my life doing this Marine Corps thing. I have a hard time picturing myself doing anything else. Sure I am “hirable” and doubt I will have a hard time finding a job even in the worst economy, but that job won’t be as a Marine. So it is tough. But taking this CFT has shown me that yeah, I am getting kind of old for this and service in the Marines is really for the young and dedicated. And yes I am still dedicated, sometimes we call the kind of dedication I feel towards the Corps like having an Eagle globe and Anchor branded on your heart. But right now I am not feeling so young and my body just does not bounce back like it used to. And yeah a lot of this is due to neglect and hard living, but it is what it is. So maybe it just another sign or even siren sounding of that yeah, 20 years is enough, and after that it is time to move on.


oxeye said...

Jordan, I'm glad I don't have to take any combat fitness test. I'm 20 lbs heavier than I was out of high school. But I agree with you about the ethics of taking care of our bodies regardless if you are in the Marines or not.

I'm hoping the country has some money left for you in 2 years, 8 months, 1 weeks, 6 days, 3 hours and 30 minutes. It is worrisome the way we keep spending it. A mind-numbing 9.7 trillion gone, and who knows if it will be accounted for.

I read today that that is enough tax payer money to pay off 90% of the USA's home mortgages. That is a lot of cash.. But when there is nothing to be said, the best thing is saying nothing, Like you said, It is what it is..

Take care..

SlowZen said...

Yes, we should all take responsibility for our own physical well being. Great point!

I have noticed that when this country is low on money we just print more. This makes my tea get more expensive...

Your last line reminded me of a Shunryu Suzuki quote "You have to say something."

Taking care,

Barry said...

What would it be like if the CFT also incorporated one's ability to see clearly into complex human situations and then respond wisely?

Surely the wisdom and compassion that may come naturally with aging has a place in combat. (It certainly has a place in dharma combat.)

In any case, Jordan, your love of the Corps and our country is remarkable and inspiring. May these next 2+ years give you great satisfaction and joy.


SlowZen said...

Hey Barry,
I think what you just described is one block out of about 20 or so on our fitness reports...

Thanks you as always for your kind words.


Anonymous said...


My dad never forgot his time in the forces (18 years) or what it did for him. It took a while for him to mentally join civvy street but he did.

I've met people who cling on to their military careers long past the point where it is healthy and I've met others who look back with bitterness.

I hope that when the time comes you are able to move on with life in a way that is healthy.


SlowZen said...

Hi Mike,

We have our share of vets groups here, even on the liberal left coast. While I am thankful for what they do, which is quite a lot, from assisting at funerals to organizing care package drives and troop appreciation events, I do not see myself carrying on that tradition.

As for me, I have been told I do remarkably well at blooming wherever I am planted. Time will tell.

Thanks for your comments,

Yamakoa said...

Thank you for your post. I find a lot of relevance in your observation. I find that if I want to hang with the "young hungry lions" I must be meticulous in my preparation and more specifically in my recovery time (pretty non-existent due to the career).

I have pretty strong feeling concerning personal responsibilities. Especially when it comes to making better choices regarding one's health. I see many people who come to see their health provider with self inflicted physical pathologies. Sad to say, but it has been my experience that many (NOT ALL) of these individuals are looking for quick fixes (usually in pill form or the scalpel) instead of assuming responsibility and acquiring the discipline necessary to make better choices when the moments arise. I know many ignorant. I know many are not. Often times we think the choices we make only affect us, but the reality of the matter dictates differently.

My two cents,

PS Have I mentioned crossfit ;-)

SlowZen said...


Yeah, you have mentioned cross-fit, I should probably look at their sight again.
And it brings up something I had not given allot of thought too. In my next job it is possible that I may not get to PT during working hours!

Anonymous said...

If you are forced to retire, you'll be fine. I know it. It is said, that thise who protect dhamma (dharma) are protected by dhamma (dharma). What an incredible opportunity it might just be to go out and see what doors and windows open for you...

SlowZen said...

Thanks for the kind words.

"Opportunity" yes, that is a good way to look at it.

Thanks again,

Kōgen 光現 Dito-Keith said...

Hey Jordan,

What do you know about Zen Buddhist Chaplins?

I'm no where near ordination, but it's in the future.

SlowZen said...

Flying Pig,
To my knowledge the Military has no Zen Buddhist Chaplains. The Department of the Navy has a Shin Buddhist Chaplain and she could tell you about the accreditation process.. She Blogs over at the "Buddhist Military Sangha" in my blogroll.

Good Luck!

Thanks for looking!