Qoheleth the Preacher wrote:

What do mortals get from all the toil and strain with which they toil under the sun? For all their days are full of pain, and their work is a vexation; even at night their minds do not rest. This also is vanity.

(From the Daily Office Lectionary – Ecclesiastes 2:22-23 – June 5, 2012)

“Vanity of vanities! All is vanity.” The frustration of the Preacher is something I believe we’ve all experienced at one time or another. “What is the point of it all?” is a question every adult probably has asked at least once, if not several times. ~ In the past few days I’ve been part of two committees trying to schedule meetings in the same few days; coordinating the calendars of about twenty different people, all with work schedules and personal lives, is next to impossible and leads to precisely the kind of frustration Ecclesiastes voices. What do mortals get from all the toil and strain? ~ As our world gets more and more complex, the abilities to be flexible, to think in terms of alternatives, to see different potential outcomes as equally good (stop looking for the one, best answer), to share differing visions nonjudgmentally, to let go of personal involvement and trust others to do a good job in their own way even if it is not your way, to clearly communicate and consult with others about ideas, all these will help avoid the sense of futility evinced in these verses. Perhaps the most important skill is the one specifically alluded to here, the ability to turn off one’s mind at night! ~ One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given about those restless night-time thoughts was to write them down. If a thought persists, write it down. Then when it comes back again, look at it with disinterest; you’ve written it down and you will deal with it in the morning. Can’t do anything about it late at night, anyway; it’s all vanity. ~ The world is a rapidly changing and the rate of change is accelerating. Flexibility and a good night’s rest are essential survival skills.