Back in 2003 – more than ten years ago – I wrote a piece in the Bobby Dazzler Newsletter about “Toughness”. Recently I came across it, and thought it might be of interest to readers of this blog, both those who have never seen Issue #6 of the Newsletter, and those who read it but have forgotten.
If you’d like to read the rest of Issue #6 of the Newsletter, click here. If you’d like to receive the Newsletter by email about every two months, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s the article:
For as long as I can remember, I have thought there was some merit in trying to keep oneself “tough” by choosing to do things like sleeping on a hard bed, or putting up with high or low temperatures, or using a hand saw when a power saw is available. I don’t think I ever implemented this philosophy to any great extent, and its merits seem slightly less convincing as I get older. (It has never been imposed on Bobby Dazzler tour guests!)
Occasionally I read about people such as athletes who engage in the most amazingly rigorous training programs, and I feel like a real couch potato! And some people become tough simply because they accept enormous demands that life puts on them, and, rather than throwing in the towel, find resources within themselves that many of us would think were impossible. You probably even know of such people—or maybe you are one!
The human being is capable of achievements in a whole host of areas which at first glance seem simply NOT POSSIBLE.
And yet, it is so tempting to settle for a pedestrian lifestyle, where matters of ultimately no importance loom large. Will X get evicted on the TV “reality” show? I can’t get my hair just the way I want it. Internet response time is a real pain!
I’m not suggesting that there’s any particular virtue in being uncomfortable, but I do think that modern living encourages us to live soft, and to live well below our capabilities. Achieving our capabilities will usually mean a fair amount of discipline, and of deprivation in the present for the sake of gratification in the future.
Going to the Australian Outback provides many object lessons in toughness—for example, getting a first-hand impression of what was achieved by the early explorers (see following article), and appreciating something of the lifestyles of those who live there today and learn to cope with the vicissitudes of life in the Outback.
People who live in remote Outback areas learn to be tough and resourceful in ways that city people find hard to imagine.
• Imagine living 200 kms (over rough roads, with lots of wildlife ready to jump out in front of you) away from the nearest hospital, where there may not even be a doctor. Imagine bringing up a family in that situation! (Outback people are pretty enthusiastic about the Flying Doctor!)
• Imagine having to do all your shopping once a month, with no chance to pop back down to the shop if you’ve forgotten something.
• Imagine being involved in polling cattle (cutting their horns off—not pleasant), crutching sheep, assisting in the delivery of various baby animals, killing animals for food, and dealing with snakes (in the summer).
• Imagine being a day’s travel away from the nearest movie theatre or cappuccino machine or hairdresser! You’d have to be tough!
On Outback trips, we sometimes meet – and have a chance to talk to – people who live in places where life is like this. They have to be tough!
No, the road to the shop is not sealed!