In praise of sheer frustration and bitter disappointment

Pain in life is not only unavoidable, Pain is Good.

Without pain I wouldn’t know what I really want but do not have. And then where would I be? Just a sleepy slug watching the world pass by.

Without pain, moments of happiness wouldn’t pack the same punch. Without pain, there’d be almost no point to very loud music. Or stunning panoramic views such as this. Never mind the combination of the two. Which — I can attest as I summon both to tonic my current mood, prove pretty excellent.


Without pain there is no urge to Make Life Wonderful. Because if it were just fine, then what would be the point of such exertion?

Therefore pain is meaning and direction and purpose.

I once had a boyfriend who was severely dyslexic. He was driven to succeed at school and later at work by the sheer force of “I’ll Show You.”

Being spurred on by anger is obviously not the only way to accomplish great things in life and I’m not saying it’s the most effective or anything like that (though perhaps it is?). I’m just saying that there’s no point in overlooking the benefits of the unpleasant sensations we try so hard to avoid.

Frustration and disappointment serve us. On a personal level frustration fixes relationships, leads us to better jobs and helps us to lose weight. And when the personal gets political, the case could be made that frustration is the champion of every form of human progress — from ending slavery to flying to the moon to saving the ocean.

I got to thinking about all this after dipping into Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life. A book I had to put down after an afternoon because I was already in a bad enough mood as it was (before I found my great view and turned up the volume), but before I tossed it to one side, I underlined the following sentences

But the worst thing we can be frustrated of is frustration itself; to be deprived of frustration is to be deprived of the possibilities of satisfaction

… frustration is optimistic in the sense that it believes that what is wanted is available, so we might talk about frustration as a form of faith

The frustration scene … is the scene of transformation

It is frustration that makes us inventive, resourceful, at our best and at our worst

Something to think about. Especially in light of this week’s card — the King of Spades. My assignment is to revisit each of the past assignments that have tripped me up, where I have failed to complete my mission — the 30% reduction in spend comes to mind and the open loops on what I’d hoped to accomplish by tracking down my mortgage providers.

The second part of the assignment is not so gladiatorial that I must now squash anything I failed to master the first time around, but I am to ask myself What frustrated my efforts? Is it worth leaving this task in the dust and saving my limited energy for finer things? Or shall I pick it up and try once again? 

Till next week.

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