Groundhog Day

What if tomorrow never came?  Today, it happened. ~  Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day Poster

It’s February 2, so it’s Groundhog Day.  It’s the day when we rely on a lowly little groundhog to determine whether or not we will have an early spring.  It is also the basis of one of my favorite movies from the early nineties.

Groundhog Day is a romantic comedy that I never tire of. The premise is simple. A news crew heads off to report on a groundhog day celebration, only to get lost in a time loop that finds the main character repeating the same day of his life, over and over and over. He seems to be the only person cognizant of the loop. Everyone else awakens again and again, says the same lines, takes the same actions — all without any conscious notion that their lives are an endless repeat of the same day over and over.

What you perceive is what you receive.

Phil Connors (Bill Murray) is an arrogant, unconscious, ego-maniacal weatherman whose life is pretty empty as the film opens.  He’s given a news assignment that he feels is beneath him and he kvetches endlessly as he and his producer, Rita (Andie MacDowell), and cameraman, Larry (Chris Elliot) make the drive to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania for the Groundhog Day celebration.  Once there, in the provincial but nevertheless charming little town, their adventures begin.  Initially, he reports on the festivities, heads back the hotel, and goes to bed without noticing anything is amiss.

The next morning, Phil awakens to Sonny and Cher singing, I Got You Babe. Then, he awakens to the song again. The first time it happens, he shrugs it off. Still, each time he wakes up, time invariably repeats.

After a while, Connors actually becomes despondent and suicidal. He feels his life has no purpose or point. His character recklessly crashes cars, engages in stupid stunts, insults people, and chases his producer, hoping to strike up a romance. However, all his efforts are fruitless. He awakens to Sonny’s voice on his bedside alarm day after day.  It is always Groundhog Day.

Finally, he tells Rita that the same day is repeating over and over.  She tells him that he might actually use the loop to learn something, to do good, to change the world.  He takes her advice and starts to use his one day to do all the things he’s always wanted to do. He learns to play the piano. He leaves his bad attitude behind and develops humility. He becomes kind to each person he meets. He starts to actually do his job well, and eventually, he catches Rita’s eye. He becomes someone she’d like to know better.

This day is all we have.

Change your life today. Don’t gamble on the future, act now, without delay. ~ Simone de Beauvoir

When Phil has learns his lesson, he makes headway with Rita and the two go back to the hotel together. When he wakes up the next morning, it is February 3rd, and Rita is asleep beside him.

I remember being delighted the first time I saw the film.  Its message seemed prescient and profound to me.  It’s been twenty years since it came out, but I think the message is just as timely and meaningful now as it was then. I don’t know why it is so hard to remember not to delay living our lives. If we live in such a way that we do not waste the time that we are given, we won’t have regrets.

To me, this film is a great reminder to sharpen our focus on present moment, and truly live.  Again, we must pay attention to what we focus our time and energy on. If we constantly focus on what is wrong or what is missing, we will miss our lives. If we focus on things we might do in the future without regard for taking action now, we miss the present. If we focus our attention on the past, on our victimization, or mistakes, or all the ways in which life has disappointed us, we miss the chance to change, the chance to learn something and grow.

Initially, Phil Connors showed up in his life with a horrible, negative attitude. He was arrogant and full of bluster. As he realized his days were looping in on themselves, he grew depressed and thought of ending his life. He couldn’t see the lesson until Rita pointed it out.

The thing is, none of us have more than this day.  

Ever.  We think we do, but we all know people who we just saw last week or last month or maybe even last night, who are no longer here. Life is a rare gift. It shouldn’t be squandered. Instead relish it. Live. Write yourself into every corner, every nook and cranny of your being.

Don’t wait.

© 2013  Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved

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