There is no question that the most prevalent and constant feeling during our lifetime is that of frustration. We are frustrated by great and small things, that are often beyond our control and ability to handle. Every day, and sometimes even every hour, we suffer from some frustration – a phone call that refuses to be answered, mail that is misdelivered. There are certain people who are not kind and courteous to us in everyday occurrences in life, that we have grown to know and expect. Our reaction to these frustrations varies from person to person. Oftentimes, frustrations bring about anger and venting towards others, which, in turn, only increases frustration.
Other people have acquired a more stoic response to these situations, and accept the frustrations of everyday life, if not with joy, then at least with equanimity. Driving an automobile in this country necessarily increases one's sense of frustration and will allow a person myriad opportunity to become frustrated. But it is the day-to-day frustrations, waiting in line, living in very hot weather, inept government with silly rules and policies, that drive the engine of frustration that exists within all of us.
We are taught that we all were created to toil. We may also state, without hesitation, that all of us were created in this world to have a constant feeling of frustration. Thus, the measure of life becomes how one can cope and deal with this constant state of frustration. I feel that many, if not most of us, fail this test, and that it becomes the source of emotional and physical stress that can be very harmful to body and soul. So, it is safe to say that, on the surface, frustration is a very negative trait.
31 - Why Does G-d Test Me With Such Difficult Challenges?
However, there is also a very bright silver lining that is to be found within this dark cloud of frustration. Without a measure of frustration, there can be no advances in scholarship, industry, medicine, or commerce. It is only because we are frustrated by what is, and by its imperfections, that we are determined to improve. So, one can say that frustration is the mother of invention. If we had not been frustrated with the horse and wagon and all its inherent woes and costs, the automobile would never have come into being. Of course, the automobile has brought it its own set of frustrations and dangers, while at the same time, a much more cost-effective mode of transportation, along further improvements in road infrastructure, engine performance and driving comfort.
Pursuing the elimination of frustration is analogous to the racing Greyhound dogs chasing the mechanical rabbit. They can never quid catch up to the rabbit, but, on the other hand, they do learn to run swifter and truer. We can never eliminate frustration from our human existence, especially in a world filled with billions of people and accompanying ideas and beliefs. However, this feeling of frustration is really what drives all advances in human society, whether they be truly desirable or not.
The nature of human beings is to resist the idea that real limits exist. People yearn to fix the problems and invent new methods that will serve them better. They can go to the moon and conquer diseases that hereto were unimaginable. But every success engenders another feeling of frustration, because we realize that there are other areas that man needs to conquer or to discover new dangers that we never knew existed even a short time ago.
The Coronavirus is an excellent example of this. Three years ago, it did not exist and was not a source of frustration, but it now dominates our lives in so many ways. We will hopefully find definitive cure prevention that will eliminate this disease, but until now it has successfully avoided our efforts to overcome it and remains a primary source of human and societal frustration today.
Therefore, we should look at all the frustrations of life, face them with an attitude of challenge, struggle, and optimism. We do have the ability to improve our quality of life and to eliminate many of the frustrations that now annoy us. We also realize that we cannot and will not eliminate all frustrations, and that every accomplishment and achievement ironically brings with it unforeseen frustration and unpredicted difficulties. It is all about facing these frustrations and improving ourselves and our society and not allowing the frustrations of life to dominate and control us. I know that this is easier said than done, but it is the way that Jewish society has survived over the ages, by using these numerous frustrations as a catalyst for improving its physical and spiritual life.