Friday, February 01, 2008

How Tough is Tough Enough?

Norman Mailer famously wrote, "Tough Guys Don't Dance".

But me?  I think of tough as being gender neutral.  Some of the toughest people I know are women.

Hemingway, with more grace and perhaps greater insight, added to the tough guy lexicon by defining "Guts" - the ultimate accolade for toughness - "as grace under pressure".

Tough is up for any challenge.  But not foolish risks.

Touch can walk on the edge and is not afraid to look down.

Tough can look in the mirror and see the truth.

Tough is honest.

I woman I once loved and still do, once remarked that of all the men she knew, I set a new standard for my ability to absorb punishment.  And in her definition of punishment she lumped in the full palette of pain - physical, emotional, spiritual, and psychological.

She didn't always mean it as a compliment.  Being tough that is.

Sometimes being tough means not being smart enough to know when to call it quits.

I couldn't describe what being tough is, but like art, a beautiful woman, and porn, I know it when I see it.

I think that to qualify as tough you need ungodly streaks of tenacity and determination.  But I don't think obstinacy and stubbornness make the grade.  

Bravado is part of being tough, but not bluster.

Real toughness has no time for bullies.

You can't be tough without an air of confidence, but arrogance destroys it.  

Tough has no time for hubris and narcissism.

And being tough doesn't exclude kindness, gentleness or good behavior.

Maybe it started with Bette Davis, and Paul Newman has mentioned it a couple of times, but "Growing old ain't for sissies".

You have to be tough to grow old gracefully.

Tough knows Life.

I think tough faces life full on and embraces every waking moment of every day, come rain or shine, blue skies or stormy weather, bucolic spring days or blustery winter blizzards.  

Tough knows that life has its share of rainy days.

Tough accommodates pain, knowing pain is part of life.

Tough knows Death deep in its bones.

Tough knows when the end is near.

How tough do you have to be, to be tough enough?


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