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The contradiction of Murphys Law
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Whilst studying science recently, an intriguing question was posed: "Mama, is Murphy's Law real?"

Unlike other laws like those governing gravity and physics, Murphy's Law is not necessarily found in a text book but is something that is mentioned frequently enough that people - especially inquisitive 12-year-olds-start to notice.

"Yes, unfortunately."

"Why do you say unfortunately?"

I tried to explain that Murphy's Law was not one of the good laws, like gravity, although lately, gravity hasn't been my friend. Somehow, I think my explanation was lacking some tangible clarity.

And telling this child something just is, is not acceptable. He will ask even more questions until he gets an answer that he thinks satisfies him.

"How do we measure Murphy's Law?" my child wanted to know.

Well, unlike other measures that science uses, Murphy's Law is a little bit different. There's no data to analyze, no beakers of liquids to compare and nothing you can evaluate for mass.

Instead, there are hundreds of little things proving that Murphy's Law is real.

I ran through a list of random proof for him.

Like how when I don't need scissors, I have five pair within an arm's reach. Yet, let me need a pair and I can't find one. Heck, I can't even find a sharp knife when I need a pair of scissors.

Before my first attempt at making Thanksgiving dinner, I fell in the river, banging my elbow so hard I could barely move my arm.

Don't even ask how I fell in the river. I am not the outdoorsy type and am usually far away from any type of moving body of water. But I had been left almost unable to cook.

I told him it could be found in how the minute someone washes their car, it rains.

Or how when you run to the store without makeup, you see everyone you know.

I was trying to come up with other examples but these were the ones I had personally experienced.


"It's rain on your wedding day when you plan an outdoor wedding," I offered, thinking that sounded awful familiar. "Or, getting something for free you didn't want."

Now that I think about it, it was basically the lyrics to Alanis Morrissett's song, "Ironic."

"I don't like that," he said, crinkling his nose. "That sounds kind of negative."

"Well, it is, to a degree. Murphy's law is all about how things that can go wrong, usually do."

"Then I know I don't like it," he stated, matter-of-factly. "I don't like that at all. I'm surprised you even mention it, Mama. You're always telling me to focus on the positive side of things. This is the opposite."

And indeed, it was.

It never occurred to me that this was a fatalistic view of life and the expectation that something bad and horrible was going to happen.

I had never really thought about it, but when I was trying to teach my child to be positive and look for the good in a situation and a person, I was also teaching him to expect the worst.

At least that's what this Murphy's Law was stating - we should be in expectation of the worst possible outcome always.
That was not the message I wanted to teach him at all.

I wanted him to be in hopeful expectation that good things would happen.

Granny had always said Murphy's Law was constant in her life and maybe the reason it was, was because she expected bad things to happen.

Whenever anything went wrong, she would declare with a mighty bellow that she had been expecting it. "I knew it, I knew it! Nothing ever goes right for me!" she would holler when something would go wrong.

Keep in mind, this was her cry whether she burned her biscuits or needed to be put in traction for a week. She had a flare for the dramatic that way.

But she expected the bad stuff to happen and then reinforced it by saying that was what she expected.

"I don't like this either," I admitted. "Want to try a scientific experiment?"

My child is usually up for science experiments, even when they don't involve fire. So he was game.


"We're going to do the opposite of Murphy's Law and expect some good things to happen and everything to go right. What do you think?"

"Has that maybe already been done?"

We looked and sure enough, there is Yhprum's law - the opposite of Murphy's Law where everything you expect to go right will.

Per this law, things can sometimes go right, even when there's no explanation for it. Or as Wikipedia described it: "Anything that will go right, will go right."

I kind of like those odds.

So we're going to expect that everything that can go right will.

Forget Murphy's Law, we're going with Yhprum's -- I can't say it, but that's what I am going to do.

And I expect it to turn out quite well, too.

Sudie Crouch is an award winning humor columnist and author of the novel, "The Dahlman Files: A Tony Dahlman Paranormal Mystery."

 

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