Everyone gets frustrated. Life is frustrating. And yet, many of us do frustrating things on purpose, actively seeking them out because they provide us with something when they're not actively frustrating us. We have jobs, we have bills, we have children, and we still do things that frustrate us more. On purpose. Often paying money to do them. It could be argued that we are all subconsciously Cleveland Fans.My family likes to tell the story of the year when I was very young when I dealt with frustration by biting things, notably doorknobs. The feeling would be so strong that something simple like yelling or punching pillows or jumping up and down would not be enough to expel its intensity: somehow, focusing all the strength of the feeling through my teeth and jaw seemed like the most efficient way of channeling the power out of my body. Woe be it to the doorknob which chose to impede my progress tearing through the house.I started taking piano lessons when I was young, six or seven, and enjoyed playing very much. I still do, although with a wife and three children in a smallish house, do it infrequently any more. The problem with learning to play the piano is that one is learning to play the piano: that is to say, by definition, you can't play the piano. Later, you can play the piano, but you can't play this on the piano. That is why you are taking lessons. With few exceptions, you need to practice so that you can develop the skill to play what you are trying to play. It can be frustrating. Normally, you can make enough progress so that the act of practicing is something you can enjoy, or at least hear and feel tangible improvement. You can tell you're getting better, and it feels more automatic, so it's an enjoyable activity. The logical part of your brain tells you it's perfectly natural to make mistakes while you're learning to play something, and that it's okay. You work on the parts that are hard, and eventually you get better at them. The logical part of your brain is not always in charge, unfortunately. There were a number of times (my mother would know better, unless the numbers got too high to count) where I would very very very very very much want to play a particular passage correctly, would not, and would become upset. It is hard to play a passage properly when you are upset. In fact, it is much easier to make another mistake when repeating a difficult passage while very upset. This would make me more upset. However, I would not stop until I played the passage correctly. Our piano, as it turned out, proved to be very durable.This kind of behavior extended to other things I tried, but not everything. In retrospect, I think it had something to do with an internal measurement I'd make about whether I ought to be able to be successful or not: hitting a Wiffle ball was something I had to be able to do, but running a whole mile was not. Doing flashcard math problems faster than anyone else was compelling, but neat handwriting or winning the spelling bee was not. It's hard to qualify what made a task "compelling," possibly because there's no discernable pattern or logic behind it. It's entirely possible that had I been born in 1996 instead of 1964, I would have been diagnosed with High Functioning Autism (another catch-all blob on the plane) myself. I learned or developed different coping mechanisms as I grew older.For Chris, there is no discernable pattern because it applies to just about everything, and the size of his coping skill set was, for a long time, exactly zero. A practice spelling test was a failure when only 9 of 10 were correct. A trivial task like dropping a ball or having Kirby the video game puffball not time a jump properly erased any past successes and precluded any future ones. He, too, is learning coping mechanisms. But it is very, very hard. Part III posts on Tuesday.