Sunday , July 18, 2021

            In my experience, a lot of guys get satisfaction from saying something like “I can do this, man!” It might be “I can lift this 100 pound weight!”, or “I can climb this mountain!” or “I can do the Boston Marathon in my wheelchair!” However, I don’t recall hearing a guy shout something like “I can accept failure!” or “I can handle being hurt!” Many males of my generation grew up with the idea that toughness means always defeating something – overcoming a towering obstacle, or beating incredible odds, or crushing some enemy or other. Life is a battle, we were taught, and better to take the winner’s ribbon than the loser’s shame. Luckily, in my 79 years I’ve slowly learned a different definition of male toughness. I’ve seen that there can be as much heroism in defeat as in victory, as much gallantry in welcoming and learning from loss as in taking pride in triumph. Growing up, I was taught that being vulnerable was a sign of male weakness, but now I see that there’s bravery in staying open to being hurt, in allowing myself to live, and learn from, a full life, complete with big wins and ruinous losses. Guys who accept vulnerability with poise are prepared for a gallant kind of victory. Men who can make honest failure a badge to wear and a teacher to learn from  have the truest kind of toughness.   


In Tough, Florida, 
the mornings are always resilient, 
ready to take your troubles 
for a carefree stroll by the shore. 
Freedom, in this stout town, 
is found even in every problem, 
even inside the prison of sorrow.  
Even weakness is indestructible in Tough. 
The frailest hospital patient 
can carry fear like it's a little feather,
and old, wobbly people 
are as powerful as the stalwart surf. 
If you think life is harsh, 
come to Tough
and see how unbreakable kindness is, 
how sturdy and solid patience can be. 

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