The Pleasures of Frustration

I was listening to my wife do her daily crossword puzzle this morning. And no, that is not a mistake – I did really mean to say listen.

Shouts of not fair, gotcha, who the heck would ever know that, or impossible!

She said she wouldn’t have it any other way. She enjoys torturing herself. The joy is in the frustration.

On the other hand, this is precisely why I don’t do crossword puzzles, aside from having a much smaller vocabulary than my partner. I see the challenge as being unfair right from the start. A clue could be cryptic, very culturally or nationally based. Some words are so rarely used that even a dictionary struggles to define them clearly. Some clues could reference several words, and it becomes an endless write, erase and repeat until, by luck, perhaps, the right combination of letters works.

Crossword puzzles vary the subtlety of the clues and words based on the original designer and the day of the week, with Friday’s newspaper being the toughest to solve. And many other variables.

Not for me. I like a fair fight.

I am teaching myself digital art. It is not painting. Painting requires a skill set I don’t have the patience for. With digital art, I can ‘undo’ a series of brush strokes that I regret with just a few two-finger taps. The feel of the task doesn’t change as with a crossword puzzle. Once I learn the software, I know I have a skill I can carry forward. I can measure my mastery of each of the hundreds of command variations. Progress!

Particularly at the beginning, it can be very frustrating. I was anxious to make a perfect circle, drag the colour from the palette, and fill in the shape.

I drew a very imperfect circle but did enclose the shape. Pausing at the joint, the program then created a perfect circle. Did I mention I like digital art? Then, I dragged the selected colour from the palette disc and ‘dropped’ it into the circle. Voila! Wait a minute. The whole screen was filled with red!

It took me about half an hour to figure out that I had to pause lifting my pen from the circle before sliding it left/right to find a threshold at which only the circle was filled. Now, the Voila was earned.

I enjoy this frustration immensely. I get energized.

In contrast, I like computer games without a time limit component, such as trying to get out of a room or wandering aimlessly around an island, discovering puzzles that open doors, turning on lights, etc. But I have a limit. At some point, many of these games switch the pleasure of the frustration to just plain frustration. At some point, I prefer to give up and look for other challenges. I make no apologies for my weak character. To each his own, I say.

Please give this a bit of a think. What are some of your pleasurable frustrations? How often do you seek out these opportunities?

I’m curious about your thoughts. Please share your bit of a think in the comment section below. It will come to me for approval before posting.

Photo by Hans-Peter Gauster on Unsplash

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