If you ever tumble down a Wikipedia rabbit hole that opens to a page enlightening you on Murphy’s Law, keep in mind all stories are double-sided.
Murphy’s Law, for those unfamiliar with it, is an adage warning, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.”
Enter 2016. I won’t list the grievances, as any person with a semblance of cognizance is familiar with the relentless stream of terror the year produced. It was, quite literally, Murphy’s Law incarnate.
It made facing the holiday season difficult. How could one muster cheer and goodwill when those global reserves were so depleted? By Thanksgiving, anticipating fresh bad news had become a perverse morning ritual served alongside my coffee and bagel.
Spiraling trends of disarray entice to shell out for a first class ticket on a handbasket to Hell, because, shoot: if you're going down, at least the trip will be indulgent. Despair is a savage plague—it riddles the mind with viral negativity. Hope and possibility become lingering wisps of a specter all but vanished.
And so the first holiday, Thanksgiving, was spent in tame merriment with my brother and his girlfriend in their Jackson Heights apartment. We ate, drank, talked, played board games, and watched movies. One of my highlights was seeing Interstellar for the first time, during which the reminder of Murphy’s Law struck me.
There’s a scene when Matthew McConaughey’s daughter quizzes him over the choice of her birth name, which from her perspective, was done as a cruel joke: out of an entire list of options, her parents settled on "Murph."
Young Murph: Why did you and mom name me after something that’s bad?
Cooper: Well, we didn’t?
Young Murph: Murphy’s Law?
Cooper: Murphy’s Law doesn’t mean that something bad will happen. What it means is whatever can happen, will happen. And that sounded just fine with us.
Reddit threads and blog posts argue against Christopher Nolan’s artistic license of this reinterpretation, but I think he makes a fairly strong point.
In keeping an open mind about the trajectory of universal events, it is not enough to combat Murphy’s Law with its inversion, so as to state everything that can go right, will go right. Most of us know life doesn’t work that way.
But it doesn’t work the other way either. You need a healthy dose of each.
At the risk of sounding like a pseudo-wise millennial, I’ve discovered a shift in perception when allowing to expose my vulnerability for the hope of “yes,” while simultaneously preparing myself for the risk of “no.” Room has to be made for both: whatever can happen, will happen. I'll never know what million, billion, trillion—and whatever numbers come after that—forces of the universe are working against me, but I'll also never know what million, billion, trillion—and whatever numbers come after that—forces of the universe are working with me. The operations of the subatomic, quantum world are still largely mysterious to us. However, Nikola Tesla is quoted with having said, “If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.”
All of this may beg the question, “How does any of it correlate with 2016 having been awful, especially now the year is over?” The answer is: In a significant way. As 2016 draws to an end and 2017 begins, I reckon many of us have fallen victim to a pattern of surmising the worst. After all, there hasn’t been mounting evidence against why we shouldn’t. But like Tesla said, you have to think in terms of energy, frequency and vibration.
What you put out into the world will return to you. I’m not referring to juju, karma, vibes, or anything that could be written off as a hippie mantra. It’s simple physics: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. If we send anger and mistrust into our environment, with anger and mistrust we will be met. There are forces that remain outside our domains of influence, but we exert control over more than we think, or maybe even want to believe.
It's easier said than done. Of course it is, especially when confronted by the atrocities, disappointment, and sadness pervading our existence. But it’s important as we go into a new year, to remember shadows only exist in the presence of light. And those wily photons, you never know what they’ll do.