Zert dropped the I-ring on the couch. Cribbie, Mr. Fearless, the toughest guy in their whole class and his best friend, was dead. He felt the tears well up inside of him. He wouldn’t cry. Thirteen-year-olds didn’t cry. He was too tough to cry.
“You’re doing fine, Cheryl,” he said. “Don’t worry about it too much. You’re green, but you’re tough. And tough is what matters the most out here. Not just anyone could do what you’re doing.”…He wasn’t tougher than me. No one was, I told myself, without believing it. I made it the mantra of those days; when I paused before yet another series of switchbacks or skidded down knee-jarring slopes, when patches of flesh peeled off my feet along with my socks, when I lay alone and lonely in my tent at night I asked, often out loud: Who is tougher than me? The answer was always the same, and even when I knew absolutely there was no way on this earth it was true, I said it anyway: No one.
–Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed
The huge owl blinked in wonder at these young owls. They seemed to know nothing. And yet…He let the thought trail off. Certainly their survival skills must be pretty good if they got out of St. Aggie’s. Still, there was no education like the one he had received. The education of an orphan. The orphan school of tough learning. He had to learn it all himself. How to fly, where to hunt, what creatures to stalk and which to avoid at all costs. No, nothing could compare to figuring out on one’s own the hard rules and schemes of a forest world—a world with uncountable riches and endless perils. It took a tough owl to figure it all out. And that was exactly how Twilight thought of himself. Tough.