Loved ones were lost. We watched our homes burn, our cars wash away, our buildings choke with mud. Businesses closed in the economic aftermath, and on the less dramatic side, some of our favorite hiking trails still remain off-limits.
As much as we all love our natural world and (many of us) choose to live here for close proximity to it, few of us are above gritting our teeth, furrowing our brows, and maybe even extending a middle finger at the flames and floods when they come consuming our town.
Compelling issues of the urban-wildlife interface aside, this is our land, dammit! Thanks to the efforts of many brave among us, we'll persevere and protect it, rebuild and carry on with confidence. Tough times are how warriors are shaped. How we develop a healthy eff-all attitude. How we become — key word coming here, kids — resilient.
Just in case you haven't yet developed the callouses necessary to face whatever catastrophic curveball Mother Nature might toss our way this summer, may we now present this handy guide to toughening up and building a better backbone. Our guide to resiliency, if you will. (You better, dammit! This gets real, yo.)
In no particular order, we (don't actually) recommend the following toughening tips:
Sleep deprivation: Those sea-legs and swimmy-head sensations you start to get after so many hours of being awake can inform a mental fortitude. Instead of your normal bedtime routine, stay up for a few days, and when the sun drops below Pikes Peak, go chase it with your headlamp.
Meal confusion: Abstain from all food for a bit and let water be your sole intake. Post-fast, recover, and feast like a caveman who's brought down a woolly mammoth. Try juicing (Ola Juice Bar and Nourish Organic Juice can help), then maybe do one of those food challenges where you attempt to eat a beyond-reasonable quantity of grub under a set timeframe (see p. 21 for one example).
Cold and heat desensitization: Yeah, you could hit high altitudes sans sufficient gear to test your mettle, or just bake in your stupid-hot car in the sun. But it might be wiser to hit your favorite ice cream shop (Josh & John's, Colorado City Creamery and Glacier come to mind) to force a brain freeze, or find those trendy Bhut Jolokia ghost chilies in places such as Lucha Cantina's "The Ghost" salsa.
Fry under the sky: Because UV intensity increases with altitude, fire-restoration work (with Rocky Mountain Field Institute and VOC) offers the shortest route to a singed hide while you pour sweat and learn to wield your McLeod like a Jedi. You might even cultivate a pulled muscle or two.
Dating: Nothing thickens the skin like incessant rejection and strings of completely ambiguous communication — overwhelmingly via text, where tone's difficult to discern and your thumb's sure to grow numb before you land that date. Perfecting this ancient art will test your verbal skills, hand-eye coordination, patience, tolerance, and if you're the inauthentic type, your actorly prowess.
Marriage: Do we really need to elaborate much here? Didn't think so. Unrelenting compromises, joint bank accounts and in some cases, poopy diapers — ick! You might not be as spry on your feet with all the monotony and routine in your life, but you agonize enough to earn your tough-guy Boy- and Girl-Scout badges. Suffer on, you crazy diamonds.
A mud race or equally barbarous sporting event: The real key here is not the punishment you endure on the obstacle course — it's your chance to master social media on the back end. That's where you'll keep tabs on the real disasters that strike our community, after all. Post those pics of you with mud caked into every orifice but smiling like you just won the spelling bee, track your page views and "likes," and master self-promotion, as it may come in handy someday if you're uprooted and need to pin down a new livelihood.
Noise immersion: Be it distasteful music, awful neighbors, sirens and other urban annoyances, keep your cool in the face of that which offends. Just one of the many exercises out there: Take an obnoxious friend to coffee, ask a probing single question, then let him or her blather endlessly, uninterrupted, without showing any signs of boredom, frustration or anger. Soon, you'll be a stone-cold samurai.
Military enlistment and/or combat skill-building: Lord knows you're in the right place to access a life of standard-issue camouflage and let boot camp deliver an ass-beating, prior to retiring into a life of fighting for decent veterans' benefits. But if a real fight overseas doesn't appeal, consider instead the local karate, taekwondo, krav maga, kung fu, Wing Chun, aikido or MMA studio.
A movie marathon: Yeah, you'll be on your couch here most of the time, with sugary snacks in hand and nothing but visual stimulation as your master. But think of how tired your butt gets when it falls asleep, how lethargic you feel with every minute of inactivity, how your eyes glaze over and get all dry, how irritable you become when interrupted and you miss dialogue. Man, it all just sucks. Must. Stay. Awake ...