Law and Disorder


Although I’m by nature a law abiding individual, there is one law that I’ve come to detest. I’m tired of the way it dogs my steps and trips me up whenever it can.

For instance, this morning when I took my walk, a small pebble found its way into my sneaker. Now, I had been walking on a nice, clean asphalt sidewalk with not a speck of gravel in sight. Yet that nasty little chip of rock—probably the only one of its ilk for miles around— had managed to work itself  under my foot.

Murphy’s law was at work. You know, the one that states, “If anything can go wrong, it will.”  I’ve learned that it was originated by one, Captain Edward A. Murphy, an engineer working on a project for the Air Force. Murphy apparently cursed a technician who had wrongly wired a transducer and declared, “If there is any way to do it wrong, he’ll find it!” thereby opening the way for a sea of troubles.

It’s said that this pestiferous law’s origin far predates Captain Murphy, and I agree. I am sure that even in ancient times, mysterious foul ups plagued our ancestors. And they continue to this day. Why else would traffic lights always turn red when I am already twenty minutes late for an appointment and go to serene green when I have all the time in the world? Why else—and this has happened too often to be mere chance—would I deem something useless and toss it out only to discover the very next day that I desperately need that now-lost item? Why does the stove and dishwasher decide to go on the fritz  together when out-of-town guests are scheduled to arrive?  And then there is that business with the washing machine where only one sock—never a pair—goes missing.

I’m not happy with Murphy or his law. Neither, it seems, is the younger generation. “Why,” demands my grand daughter, “do kids always drop some food on their clothes when they have to take school photographs?” I have no answer, but Murphy undoubtedly does.

Things that can go wrong

Always seem to happen at

Worst possible times!

Arguably, Murphy’s law has uses. It works wonderfully well for comedies in which every possible disaster happens to the protagonist. Is the hero trying to woo his lovely co-worker? If he is preparing dinner for her, of course the candles will tip over and the table cloth will catch on fire. If a teen is trying to sneak back into the house after being where he shouldn’t have been, he’ll no doubt step on a roller skate (left by an absent minded sibling), collide with the family dog, and tip over Mom’s antique vase. This scene is too painful to relate, but it does wake up readers, not to mention Mom. And tragedies don’t escape Murphy, either. Think of poor Romeo and Juliet and of Richard III yelling for a horse!

But Murphy has no mercy on writers, either. Yesterday I carved out time to finish projects too long in the making: the second draft of a story and the completion of an art quilt. The house was still, gentle baroque music wafted through the air. I should have known that Murphy was getting ready to strike.

Sure enough, the sewing machine began to make strange noises, the thread clogged, the needle broke. And when with what I thought was admirable calm I turned to work on my story instead, the lights flickered and went out.

Honestly, I could do with a lot less of Murphy and his law!


About Maureen C. Wartski

I’m Maureen Wartski, writer, artist, wife, mother, grandmother; you can see that I have many of the bases covered. I was born in Ashiya, Japan, a (then) small town which lay cradled between sea and mountains. In the evenings, we would walk along the road that ran past Osaka Bay, and a great moon would rise out of the water to turn the world to silver. I’m told that my first words were, “Big moon!” All my life I have felt the tug to write something, draw something, put together something with fabric, string and color, and the urge to create has grown through the years. I suppose, then, that it’s a natural thing that this blog be full of the things that so many of you enjoy doing…drawing, making something with fabric, and writing. Yuri's Brush with Magic, my newest book for middle schoolers follows the adventures of a brother and sister, the magic of words, and the incredible magic of the natural world. I'd love to hear from you! You can send me a note at: My blog is here: Or friend me on Facebook!

8 responses »

  1. Ah! And now the way is really clear for even more exceptional creativity! Maureen, these obstacles are put in our way for no recognizable reason…… except possibly to urge us on to even greater heights of coping and winning new battles. Doesn’t this explanation smack of rationalization rather than true understanding? Love Fran

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