Death, Taxes, and Murphy’s Law.

Updated with thoughtful comments from readers. Scroll down.

So, I was supposed to be in Austin today for my annual South by Southwest (SXSW) trek . But, given the certain constancy of Murphy’s Law, I find myself back in Toronto writing this blog post. Boy, what a day (and what a way) to cap a momentous week at work.

Earlier today, I found myself running to Gate No. 164 in Toronto International Airport after being detained for a random inspection at customs, which in my case, is regular enough at this point. Well, the last time I sat through one of these, it took me 15 minutes, but this time it took over an hour and as I sat waiting with a bunch of others, I noticed I had cut it too close this time.

I missed my flight by 5 minutes.

Worse still, all the United Airlines personnel had left the building since it was the last United flight for the day (finding this out took me a half hour!). Equally odd was my experience of having to make a U-turn and walk straight through Canadian immigration (with my I-94 still stamped on my passport) since there were no available flights for tomorrow. And, the best part was I panicked that my checked-in luggage was now somewhere en route to Austin, Texas. Luckily, a half hour later I did find it at Carousel No. 13 (So, all was not lost).

Eh, well. I could go on. But, that’d defeat the point of this post.

Shit happens. But our response to it builds character.

I bet there are two schools of thought. One who assume that individuals with strength of character deal with tough situations with grace. But, I’m sure that’s not the way it works. Rather, it’s our response to such situations over time that helps build that strength of character. Now, I’m sure there are worse things than missing an international flight narrowly by a few minutes. But, trying to salvage some minimal goodness out of it and not focusing on the negativity is sure as heck harder than it seems.

It also reminded me of a wonderful anecdote narrated by Mayor Cory Booker when he spoke at LinkedIn earlier this week. This one too involved an airport and a flight. He talked about how he found his good luck at finding perfect seats on a flight turn into a nightmare, but the choice he made helped turn it around and make it a pleasant experience for him and the family seated right next to him. Sure, I ruined a good story (you’ve got to hear him speak). But, even when the tough situation just involves you, the choices we make helps save our day.

So, here’s what’s gonna happen. I’m gonna see my long-time-no-see friends, I was hoping to catch up with, on Sunday. And, there’s always another year, another South By Southwest. But, one thing’s for sure. I’m gonna use tomorrow in a productive fashion. Gonna get rid of my dumb phone that has been the bane of my existence, get my new iPhone, and get some blogging done.

Yes. If nothing else. The one good I can claim this resulted in, is get me to kick that writers-block squarely in the nuts. And, it’s back to blogging, baby.

Thanks for your thoughts and kind words! Here’s some:

Michael Lee Stallard


Paul Roetzer from PR 20/20

Those TabbedOut guys

Wade Burgess!/wadeburgess/statuses/46681324232253440

Ben Wise!/ben_wise/statuses/46673722207248384

And, to my good friends and peers. See you on Sunday.


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  1. #NotAtSXSW « Marketing Nirvana

    […] friendships that were forged during those weekends. This weekend will be the first year in 5 years (I even made it last year despite the chaos) that I’ll be missing out on the action – partly due to a bruised rib and partly cos I […]

  2. #NotAtSXSW « Marketing Nirvana

    […] friendships that were forged during those weekends. This weekend will be the first year in 5 years (I even made it last year in the middle of chaos) that I’ll be missing out on the action – partly due to a bruised rib and partly cos I […]

  3. benhurjun

    Hi we all have our share of Murphy. Here’s mine:

    I was buying phone cards in a retail store at Shangri-la. A sign says “Out for lunch.” So I browsed through shops in the vicinity while waiting. I checked every so often to see if the counter girl has come back. No, not yet. I was deliberately patient in an attempt to beat Murphy’s Law which rule our lives most of the time but thirty minutes passed and not a shadow of her in sight so I decided to buy somewhere else. I know it’s pointless but just to drive home the point, I came back just after a fleeting five minutes, just five minutes or so. There, as clear as daylight, by the counter, behind clear glass, she was fixing her hair, admiring herself, turning left, right, eyes glued at her pocket mirror; she pouted her lips, blink blink. Murphy’s right!!!

  4. travelingmad

    Nice post. Sorry to hear about your ordeal though.
    The key to obstacles are persistence and positivity.
    Check out this video made in France for Mayor Booker:

  5. Mario Sundar

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Michael!

    As I said in my post, it’s hard as heck. But, it feels good once you get through it with calm. Weirdly, it’s kind a like kickin’ a bad habit, I guess.

  6. Why LinkedIn Today is not just another News product. « Mario Sundar

    […] Older » […]

  7. Michael Lee Stallard


    There is much wisdom in your attitude.

    Life is a marathon. Responding to the inevitable frustrations and obstacles in life with patience, grace and thoughtfulness, rather than with anger and reactionary outbursts, strengthens our character, as you say, and helps us persevere in more productive ways.

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