What is being tough? What does that mean these days? There are many connotations I guess. That person is tough, don't mess with her. This steak is tough. Algebra is tough. There are so many different uses and meanings for the word that it seems like one of those words that gets carelessly thrown around too much. I guess that maybe there are just multiple scales of toughness?
Many of the things I saw in regard to social media posts around New Years this year implied that 2021 was tough....but was it really that tough? Certainly, it wasn't a banner year full of social galas; and there was definitely some hard times for some business, and yes, some people got sick...but how tough was it as a whole? In my area, I could order take out from most of the restaurants; I could go online, put in my shopping list at the grocery store and have it sitting waiting when I pulled up; and get this...I could call a liquor store and have beer and wine delivered to my front door...that used to be called bootlegging!! Sure, I missed my fair share of shows. Many things got cancelled or rescheduled, but I got more opportunity to spend time with my kids; learned how to make a few dishes at home (the residual effect is now we appreciate a good meal again). I am just saying I guess, that it could have been much, much, much tougher.
Maybe there should be a huge flashing billboard or better yet for these days, an annoying sound coming from our mobile devices to grab our attention....WE ARE GETTING SOFT!!!
My grandparents on my father's side have both passed on for awhile now. My grandfather was born in 1910, contracted polio by his teenage years, spent 7 years in a hospital and came out with such limited mobility of his braced legs that he was resigned to spend the rest of his life on crutches. I could write an entire book about him, but will give you just a few important parts for now. He eventually became a farmer on land that was pretty much deemed unusable in the Neutral Hills of Alberta. He and my Grandmother, went through the depression and apparently there was no skip the dishes number they could call back then, in fact, they had to eat to survive..not for pleasure. He found a way to plough fields behind a team of horses..on crutches..to stack hay...to make his way to and from the barn in the winter time (of course my grandmother was there as well, and also one tough mama..I'll get to that in a minute). It would have been easy to complain, to give up, to quit and look for handouts. That wasn't the way things were. Nearly everyone his age had watched people go off to World Wars and not return, faced the Spanish Flu, try to live through the Great Depression....and do it without internet, without the fast easy science of today, without a grocery store around the corner that carries everything from flour to the wonders of the international aisle.
I watched my grandmother go to a hospital in Alberta with a nose bleed that wouldn't stop. I listened as a Dr. told her that he was going to cauterize the inside of her nose. I didn't really get the picture until I watched him hit the button on this little pen that had a thin looped wire on the end of it. The wire glowed red hot, and he put that up into her nose which on contact let out a small puff of smoke. She didn't moan, didn't cry...didn't even flinch! It was likely the single most impressive feat of physical toughness I had ever seen. I think about it every time I am subjected to the rapid tests of today.
We all have a choice as to how we react to things. There are certainly some things going on now that we wish would just go away, but is it all that bad...is it really that tough? There are naturally going to be people who need help to cope, are getting a raw deal, or maybe just need someone to talk with. That's when we as a society become a team...to put it in sporting terms...we become tough to play against. There are literally thousands of stories that each of us has heard from people in our own families and friends with truly remarkable feats of toughness. Maybe, just maybe, we can draw on some of those and know that level of resolve is attainable, and actually lives in each of us. The old adage of when the going gets tough, the tough get going is true. I will leave you with this quote from a book that I read recently that should be required reading for anyone.
We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.
The book is called Man's Search For Meaning,by Viktor E. Frankl. He was a concentration camp survivor...and he was tough.