I’m not tough. Not even close. People who can’t find food today - they are tough. People without homes - they are tough. People without drinking water - they are tough. People suffering - they are tough.
In the Fall I showed up untrained for a marathon while three days fasted. Because of what I know about physiology, that was relatively easy. It in no way showcases toughness. Staying up through the night with a child whose illness may mark the end, that is tough. Waiting for symptoms to subside - that is tough. Losing people - that is tough. Almost losing people - that is tough.
Whatever it is we do or don’t face, do or don’t attempt, is only as hard as our imagination’s ability to create finite edges. “Will this ever come to an end?” is tough. “This will come to an end” is not so tough. “How will this end?” is tough. “As it should” is not so tough. “No matter what, it’ll be bad” is tough. “No matter how bad, I’ll get back up” is not so tough. “How long must I keep going?” is tough. “I will keep going to the next step” is not so tough.
Physical feats are great metaphors. But they have finite limits by definition. That is not tough. That’s not even close to tough. The difficulties of life don’t have mile markers or time stamps. They don’t have rules of engagement. Some never end. All always change.
That unquantifiable nature is tough. Infinite. Boundless. But we can temper how tough it seems by merely narrowing our vision to the next step. Step, we must, in some direction, somehow, some way, anyway. So, step. And step again. And again. And soon the “tough” has become the “done.” And what is done is not tough.
Toughness is relative.