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Half Full
by Malkie Feig
Publication: www.torah.org

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8/21/08

I violated the law today. In fact, I violate the law dozens of times each day, and nobody bats an eyelash. Business resumes, and the law remains firmly entrenched in humanity's mind.

I don't know who Murphy was, and I don't care to know, but I do know that Murphy's law dictates that anything that can go wrong, inevitably will. Buttered toast will invariably fall on the buttered side, as surely as the traffic light will turn red just as one is racing to avoid traffic. So much for the law.

And I, in simple defiance of it, have proven Murphy wrong time and time again. From the moment I utter the words of modeh ani (the prayer recited upon awakening) in the morning, thanking Hashem for the priceless gift of yet another day of life, until late in the evening when I entrust my soul to my Creator, my day is one long rebuttal of that bleak, dismal assessment of life.

The very first blow to the validity of this pessimistic prediction is the simple fact that I wake up at all. Someone unfamiliar with the notion of sleep, who had seen me sprawled on my bed, mute, immobile, and virtually lifeless, would stare in openmouthed wonder at my scurrying silhouette, wrapping lunches, firing orders, simultaneously feeding, dressing, signing tests, and tying shoes. My life, which had been temporarily suspended while slumber held my body hostage, has been handed back to me anew. I've been imbued again with the gift of vitality, with the strength and vigor to face a new day. Upon my awakening, all my organs immediately began actively working. And the moment my eyelids fluttered open, my memory automatically resumed its function, enabling me to pick up the threads of yesterday with effortless ease.

Incredibly, this whole miracle of resuscitation took place with little pomp and ceremony other than a noisy yawn and a quickly mumbled modeh ani. And if that weren't enough to dispel the myth that things tend to not work out, a glorious sun was smiling down at the world, streaming into my window, and stroking my arms as I hurriedly washed my hands.

Wonder of wonders, the blouse I had chosen to wear was washed and ironed, the hem on the skirt blessedly intact. To add to the list, my husband was home from shacharis(morning prayer services) in time, there were enough Cheerios to go around, and the milk in the fridge wasn't sour. There was a pen in the drawer to sign Chezky's mishnayos test, and it wasn't leaking. All five kids found both shoes, Shayna agreed that her stomach ache would wait until I came home from work, my car keys were just where I had left them last night, and I even remembered where that was!

It's amazing how many things can go right in one short morning. It's even more amazing how we humans insist on highlighting the exception to the rule. No matter how many wonderful things transpire in the course of a day, we somehow pass up on them in favor of griping over some mishap or other. The funny thing is, we almost don't notice that things are running smoothly until there is a kink in the mechanism and something goes awry. Who takes note of a working boiler, an unclogged drain or a toenail that isn't ingrown? Who raves over made beds, the absence of lines in the supermarket, or the fact that the blinds we've ordered have arrived in the right color?

Ask any teacher, carpenter, shopkeeper, caterer, or author. Just ask them when is the last time anyone called especially to thank them. To tell the teacher that the way she rearranged the seats was so perfect and must have taken hours of thought, to let the carpenter know that the hinges were just the right size, and thank him so much for making the special order; or to express appreciation for the fact that the grocery store was so well stocked so soon after Pesach.

We humans seem to take special pleasure in making a pet out of our peeves. Annoyance, disapproval, and frustration find their way into the written and spoken word a lot more often and a lot more emphatically than gratitude and satisfaction.

Of course that’s wrong, but then let’s remember; not everything that can go wrong will, and not everything that does go wrong, must. With a little awareness and a lot of willpower, we can instate a new law. Most things that can go right, do. All we've got to do is take out a pen and paper and jot down everything that has happened in the last hour. We'll suddenly be made to see that the bank could have been closed, that important folder could have been accidentally left at home, and the baby could have swallowed the button on the floor. No matter how many things have gone wrong, there are bound to be a million more that could have, but didn't. That is all the evidence we need to abolish Murphy's law. Let's try it. We'll be the most sought after lawbreakers around. Positively so.

This article was originally published in the Yated Ne’eman and can be found on Torah.org



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