Murphy’s Law

Murphy’s Law states that what can go wrong will go wrong.

Over the past two weeks, my life has been an exercise in that bitter adage.

Two Saturday’s ago, we hired a handyman on the cheap to fix our first-floor bathroom faucet. When I took a shower later that night, water poured through our tenant’s ceiling below.

The next day, after a long string of football staff meetings, I came home to this:

Murphys Law#1

Pepco soon restored the power. I borrowed my neighbors chainsaw and had some fun cutting the wood up.

Murphy's Law #2

Problem solved. My wife remarked: “strange for a tree limb to fall out of nowhere like that.” I agreed.

On Wednesday that week I woke up to this:

Murphy's Law#3

A different tree limb fell. This one knocking out our cable and phone wires.

“What the hell?” I asked my wife. The tree company we used to help us weather a spring storm (read that story here) gave us a good rate on limb removal, examined the tree and found it perfectly healthy.

Water in our basement came next, soaking our tenant’s bedroom carpet. This problem has been recurring for years. I dug down to the footer and re-tarred the foundation wall. I put a french drain in to help move water away from the house. And still, on a perfectly dry day, water rose up through the concrete slab of our foundation. Luckily our waterproofing company offers 12-month interest-free financing on the sub pump they will install Wednesday. Otherwise, I would be selling my body to science rather than writing this post.

This past Thursday, before my first sip of coffee, I see this out of my kitchen window. A third tree limb fell, smashing through my car’s windshield and denting the roof.

Murhpy's Law #4use

I shit you not. I would list the other mishaps but I am currently nauseated from reliving one hell of a fortnight.


The timing of it all hasn’t helped. Miranda is back to work after 2 ½ years in graduate school. Strangely enough, the dates encompassing these home-owner headaches will be the same dates comprising her first pay stub, which will promptly disappear in electrician, plumber, tree-removal, and foundation-repair payments.

Why us? Why now?—the obvious questions on our mind. Why has Murphy’s Law descended upon our home like a swirling tornado of leaking faucets and falling limbs? Is God telling us we are destined for financial struggle? Is God telling us to move?

I found an entirely different lesson.


What if I could believe that we were spared of these problems until Miranda got back to work and we were in a position to deal with them?

What if a tree limb stripping the main power supply wire off our house could make me grateful for the electricity we take for granted?

What if being present to deal with this adversity could remind me how marvelous sobriety is?

Those realizations slowly saturated my conscience like the rising water that seeped into our basement carpet. I stored each one in the neuron folder titled: Truths that piss me off.


Gratitude did not get me through these two weeks. Neither did solving each problem as it surfaced like a whack-a-mole. Neither was it a big-picture faith that this is all part of God’s plan. What got me through these two weeks was purpose. It was football.

For those two hours a day that I am coaching, there is one purpose in my mind: get these kids better. Make them better football players. Help make them come together as a team. Teach them how to be successful. Show them how to win.

I lose myself on that field. It is the same loss of self I experience when writing.

The same loss of self I experience when I come home and my daughter tackles me onto the carpet.

The same loss of self I experience when the bell rings to start class.

The same loss of self I experience when I give someone else my full attention at a meeting.

The truth is, I am happiest when my life is not about me.

When I am working in service of another—

when I am helping someone else achieve success—

when I am lost in the love of another—

I lose myself.

And when I lose myself, I experience the kingdom of God, the joy of living, and the splendor of existence.

29 Responses to “Murphy’s Law

  • That was a great part of an early morning read. Our whole purpose is to help others. It isn’t about us, we do our part and the rest works itself out. Thanks for sharing your unique way in wisdom.

  • Dwight
    1 year ago

    Terrific Post Mark!

  • Mark Decker (Sr)
    1 year ago

    Mark – your strength in the face of adversity is very inspiring – thanks for sharing your Murphy’s Law experience – it happens to all of us at one time or another – multiple times!! Keep on keeping on.

  • Mr. Murphy can really bring us down if we let him, but you took the high road and found the bright side. Sometimes it seems like every time I scratch together a little bit of savings they disappear because yet another thing needs to get fixed or replaced. I have to remind myself that I’m fortunate to have the ability to cover my debts and have a little fun along the way. I have to remind myself that it’s really more like I have a lot of fun and I cover my debts than the other way around. And mostly, I have to remind myself that I owe a lot of that to being sober these days.

    Also, I love how you worked football into this.

    • Yeah, I couldn’t deny that it was fotball (or purpose) that pulled me out. Not some ‘positive thinking’ etc.

      Thanks Damien. You’re tweet about total loss cracked me up the other day. See you for UMD vs PSU!

  • Love this, Mark. Sometimes we do have to “work” to find the gratitude. I also find that whenever I have extra anything, (i.e., money with Miranda going back to work)…that void is filled by real world NEED. My wife does a better job than I do of finding the blessing in that. Take care

  • Great post! So true, we are happiest when we look outward, I think xxx

  • Linda dev
    1 year ago

    Great reminder of how a dose of being grateful can shrink life’s big and small problems. Hope your Murphy’s luck runs dry pretty quick though.

  • Just found your blog and this post is amazing. Especially “neuron folder titled: Truths that piss me off.” But big picture, the idea of life being happier when its not about me feels important to me, in super early sobriety. Thanks.

    • Stay with it! Great to connect! Thank you for your comment.

      Very cool also to meet your blog. Your title reminds me that I have a daily reprieve from drinking based on my spiritual condition! Awesomeness.

  • Taylor
    1 year ago

    Loving each of your entries, but this one especially. Gratitude all the way.
    Your proud big sister, Taylor

    • Thanks T! Nice to see your comment on here. Working on Hamilton. Will get there when I have some room to breathe.

  • Wow, thank God you have a sense of humor. Great post!!

  • It is so easy to get bogged down in just everyday life but when Murphy is on the scene it can be almost impossible to see the blessings. Good for you for coming through it.

  • That’s a lot of crap in one week!! And, where were the tree limbs coming from? Were neighbors throwing them over to your yard?? I’m not able to talk about things like that, for any length, while I’m in the midst, but yes, when it’s past, I have a chance to contemplate the grand scheme. Wonderful post, my friend.

  • Hi Mark!
    Another beautiful post!
    I am sorry all those things happened, though!
    We’ve had so much rain here in Minneapolis!

  • Nicely done, Mark! And yes, WENDY, I agree. It’s been WAYYYY too wet in the Twin Cities (I’m in St. Paul). – DDM

  • I was ready to be amazed (but skeptical) that gratitude was your answer to that really awful chain of events. But when you said it was having a purpose that kept you going, not that rings true to me! It’s amazing how losing yourself in something is such an important part of being yourself. Great post! xo

  • Holy crow – that’s insane. Amazing how these things come in bunches. We have been having issues with electronics lately. Nothing like what has happened to you – no electrical or cable issues. Lights that no longer work, printer that died only 6 months after getting it, my GPS watch, and a few other things. Not life threatening. First world problems. So I can’t complain (but I do…ha ha). I have to admit, Mark, that I sometimes struggle to find gratitude. Not that I am an ungrateful wretch, but I have to muster forth a lot of thought to get to the places you do in this wonderful piece. I say a gratitude prayer nightly, and while I just hammer out the usual stuff (family, home, sobriety, etc.) I am now inspired to think of different things. It’s easy to get wrapped up in the negative. And clearly it would have been very easy to gnash your teeth on what happened to you, but you pulled out of it with grace. Thank you for this.

  • Awesome post! I thought for sure you were describing a scene from Poltergeist. But your flip in perspective is what it’s all about. And that can be so tough! Thank you for the words and thoughts.

  • You poor man. We had that two weeks ago when the contents of our toilet decided to come gurgling up in our basement. Holy shit. Literally. Thank god for acceptance and good plumbers. Thanks for sharing about getting thru life sober and with a sense of humor.

  • Sweet Jesus….is that the same tree that a limb fell into the house near your daughter’s room? I love that you turned it around and could see all of the possibilities for good. I am driving my girl, every single day, to the methadone clinic. (There are many good reasons for this, besides my propensity to be a co-dependent) It is 120 miles round trip. It takes gallons and gallons of gas, which costs money. It takes a good chunk of time each day and I am squeezing it in where ever I can fit it….this morning it was 5:45am. We watched the sun rise together as we drove. No matter how this goes, I will have that memory forever. That is a good thing, a blessing. There are blessings in the yuk and you are actively looking for them. Bravo. That action changes everything! : )

  • Life showing up un-mundanely (new word) to show you how strong you are. Brilliant as always Mark. 🙂

  • The point is you dealt with every occurrence in a responsible and sober way. Accepting life on lifes terms is indeed a challenge sometimes. Rather than Murphy’s law I prefer,the following:
    In life pain is mandatory, suffering is optional.
    Glad,to hear you took the first pathway and not the second
    All he best

    • I like the quote you provided Moshe. It is absolutely true. Suffering comes down to choice. Pain is unavoidable. Thanks for the visit and the comment!

  • Max Wait
    1 year ago

    Great story Mark, I love the “what if’s”.

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