Murphy’s Law

One day last week my son had a day off and he said to me “Let’s go to the beach.” I said, “It’s a crazy idea. – Yes, let’s.”

Some people are spontaneous and some people want to check everything out, and they just can’t bring themselves to do something on the spur of the moment.

This reminds me a little bit of Murphy’s Law, or “If anything can go wrong, it will” has always seemed to me to be a reasonable idea. If you check to make sure the breaks on your car are in working order, it will save you much heartache, and probably your life.

But I have some problems with it when the same concept it applied in what I consider to be unreasonable or extreme ways. At a workshop I once attended, the topic for the day had something to do with choosing between Murphy’s Law and being spontaneous. The idea being put forth was that Murphy’s Law (as it was being applied to life, beyond any meaning Murphy had ever dreamed of) represents an unhealthy attitude toward life. One should always be spontaneous and not worry about checking everything out all the time. I had a strong negative reaction to this because of my own personal experience. There have been times I didn’t give something enough forethought and planning and the results were disastrous.

In the workshop I protested with an example I thought would make perfect sense to the facilitators. “What if my adolescent kid doesn’t take money for the bus because he’s being spontaneous and then he’s hitching a ride home late at night?” This didn’t seem to bother the facilitator, who continued to drive home his point.

On the other hand I can argue just the opposite when Murphy’s Law is used so pervasively that the amount of “checking” and “making sure” that needs to be done would preclude the ability to get anything done.

For some things there just are no guarantees. There is no way to be sure about your success doing something, and you have to take a risk. If you’re afraid to take any risks you’ll never accomplish anything in life. Sure, it might not turn out the way you would like. But if it seems like the right thing to do, you hope for the best.

Probably one person’s reasonable risk is another person’s unreasonable risk. But I think this is one of those things where the truth lies somewhere in the middle. If planning ahead will make life better for you, why not? But if something feels right to do even if you don’t know what the result will be, you don’t have to be immobilized by your inability to see what will come of it.

Maybe the difference is between being able to know the result, where you might as well check it out and take precautions, and being unable to foresee the result, where you have to just trust. Any thoughts?

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5 Responses to Murphy’s Law

  1. Panny says:

    This reminds me of the time I started my study in Logotherapy in 2009. At the time, I was totally suicidal due to the mounting negative effects of severe childhood abuse in my life. I wanted out, but then the opportunity of studying logotherapy presented itself to me as a beacon of hope and light shining in the darkness of my existence. At the age of 49 years, and with my very last work salary, I registered for the course with absolutely no way of knowing where my next salary would come from, or even if I was capable or brave enough to do it. At that time, my decision was based solely on “life or death!” I could not foresee the result of my decision, but had to trust that it would somehow be life-giving to me, because deep down this is what I really wanted. Everything started to fall into place from that moment on… I received sponsorship and so much love and support, and my incredible journey to “real living and healing” began.

    I’m now in my fourth year of study. I can remember how in the first year, I used to arrive at the university for our monthly plenary sessions feeling very frightened due to my extremely low self-esteem. I’d sit in my seat crying quietly to myself for the first hour of our meetings there, until I settled in. One of the students said to me way back then… “Fake it until you make it”… and so I did. I faked courage and ability, even though I was scared half out of my wits, and just kept going, not allowing my fears to stop me from attending and doing the very best I could do under the circumstances.

    Three years later I had to face my final examination for the advanced course in logotherapy. Once again I was petrified. The final course required that I stand up in front of the class and present my work to them all. At that time of my life, I still could not even stand up in front of my church friends to say an opening or closing prayer, so how on earth would I be able to stand up in front of this group to deliver my presentation (would I make a total fool of myself?). But I took the chance, knowing that I’d worked real hard on my project and that this was my opportunity to shine.

    On the day I felt almost paralysed with fear as I walked up the stairs of the university to the room where I was to present, but I did not give up on myself or the people who had believed in me so much and helped me to come so far. As I stood in front of the class, I wanted to bolt; my heart was pounding in my ears and I felt dizzy!

    I somehow found the courage to deliver my presentation and was totally surprised at how well it was received. Up till that moment in time, I still did not believe in myself! When everyone stood up and clapped afterwards, I was actually stunned! Haahaaa!

    Well, the moral of this story is that I have since given my presentation on “My Journey to Meaningful Healing and Freedom from Suffering Through Logotherapy” five times… and just recently, twice in Israel by invitation. I now believe in my presentation which has been received so well by professional and no professional groups, and most importantly, I have a growing belief in myself and my abilities, enough to keep me moving forward without faking courage anymore, even though I still experience some anxiety which I accept as normal now! My life has changed so much for the better… I hardly recognise myself from the person I was just a few short years ago! I would not have ever believed then that “this” was possible for me… It’s truly wonderful!

  2. logogroup says:

    Yes, it is truly wonderful and your presentation was truly wonderful. You are an inspiration to people. When they stood up and applauded it was because you moved them beyond words. Only applause would do. You are a beautiful person and a testimony to the strength and goodness of the human spirit. You will continue to fly beyond what you had imagined! This is what life holds out for us. The gift of you coming out and blessing the world.

  3. Panny says:

    How I cherish your beautiful response, thank you so much for you too are a very beautiful person to me. I have just found your msg. here as I did not receive e-mail on it… I’m not sure if I’m registered to this site or if I still have something I need to do. I’ll go see if I can see what may still be needed to do now so that I can receive update e-mails regularly.

    May you be forever blessed in all that you do. You write with such a beautiful heart… the true heart of logotherapy… what a lovely gift you have to share such wisdom for all who are blessed to find this site… I’m so grateful for you.

    Love Pan.

  4. logogroup says:

    Thank you! But we do bless each other. Don’t think for a minute that it only goes one way. The people you feel give to you and whom you are grateful for, are also receiving from you!

  5. Panny says:

    🙂 Thank you… and sending lots of love your way.

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