There's a good chance you don't know who Connie Eble is. Born in 1942, she made it to college professor at a young age. First in Kentucky, then at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Connie Clare Eble is a linguist who taught English grammar for a long time. She has published all sorts of things, but the only two words that will stick to her for the rest of time are Shit happens.
She didn't even come up with them herself. Connie edited an annual publication about college lingo, slang that students use around each other. Each year she asked her students to write their most commonly used expressions on index cards and turn them in to her. In 1983, a young student handed her the words, "Shit happens". The clarification she gave with it was that another student told her he had failed an exam, but he did not let it discourage him. "That shit happens," he said, shrugging his shoulders. Whether this was the very first time anyone had ever used those words is unknown. But Professor Eble's 1983 volume of UNC-CH Slang was the first time it appeared in print. From there, it took on a life of its own.
Mainly because everyone knows it's true, for as long as there have been humans. You can't escape trouble, or what we perceive as trouble. Such as the fact that we will die someday, every one of us. Everyone's predictable death could be reason enough for a lifetime of pessimism. But that's not how it works in that 10,000-year-old big brain of ours that allowed us to improve our thinking. Dying falls into the category of Shit happens. Just like war, hurricanes, disease and episodes of lack of money. One day they happen. Rising sea levels as the climate continues to warm. Tears when a loved one dies. Menopause, waking up sweating in the middle of the night. An astronaut who doesn't return alive. We know this, it is predictable, one day each of us realizes that life sometimes equals suffering.
But we don't become despondent over it. On the contrary, we become resourceful. Death is inevitable, perishing in a head-on collision is not. Hurricanes happen, but war is avoidable. This is a crucial ingredient of optimism. To aerospace engineer Edward Murphy is invariably attributed the statement that "anything that can go wrong will go wrong at some point," but Ed was in reality an optimist.
He figured that with tests he could determine how much gravitational pressure the human body could withstand and that with this knowledge an astronaut could be hurled into space safely. Most successful laboratory tests are the end result of countless, often intentional, misses and failures. Murphy wanted to know what could go wrong and he let it happen. Eventually, thanks to him, a spacesuit was designed that allowed Alan Shepard, John Glenn and everyone else to escape our atmosphere. Murphy's Law, to Major Murphy's dismay often quoted as an ultimate expression of pessimism, was born out of optimism.
Purchase Book HALF FULL right here: