Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"Groundhog Day" Revisited

I just want to point something out.

Most of you probably know the movie called "Groundhog Day."  It's an early '90's comedy flick starring Bill Murray as a weatherman who gets stuck repeating the same day over and over and over again.  It's one of those movies that frequently gets shown on cable TV over the weekend when there's nothing new to be shown.  I re-watched it earlier this year and was surprised at how funny and satisfying it actually was!

When we find ourselves repeating the same task over and over again - whether it's the same yoga class, the same job, the same chores, or the same studies - we tend to exclaim, "Ugh!  It's just like Groundhog Day!" I remember when I was halfway through teacher training and all the days started to blur together, my roommate and I agreed that there was definitely a Groundhog Day effect going on - it felt like we woke up into the same circumstances every day and we were doomed to repeat the same day indefinitely.

But here's the thing, the blindingly obvious truth of the matter, the part that we always forget: Bill Murray had a completely different experience every day!

Yes, it was still February 2nd every time he woke up.  But the day never went the same way twice.

And more than that - as the repetition continued, Bill Murray learned to live the day better.  After a few attempts, he remembered to avoid the puddle outside his front door.  He figured out how to get rid of the annoying acquaintance who would always accost him.  On a some occasions, he tried to throw the towel in by acting as outrageously as possible, getting himself arrested or driving his car off a cliff.  But then he really started to learn.  He found out when the little boy was about to fall out of a tree, and he learned how to get to the right place at the right time.  He knew what time he had to get to the restaurant in order to save the old man from choking.  He learned to play the piano, one lesson at a time, hundreds of lessons, all on February 2nd, until he was able to amaze everyone with his prodigy - "I've never played before today!"  He even - naturally, because this is Hollywood - figured out how to get the girl.  He got better and better and better, until he finally got the day right - and that, of course, finally released him from the loop.

But that's what Groundhog Day means.  It's not just doing the same shit over and over again.  (What's that saying about insanity?  "Insanity consists of doing the same thing over and over and expecting to get different results.")  Groundhog Day means that you wake up to the same circumstances every day and take the chance to tackle them differently, to live the day better.  Groundhog Day is an opportunity.  Groundhog Day is infinite possibility.  Groundhog Day is a chance to try lots of different things, and sometimes you'll succeed, and sometimes you'll fuck it up, but you still keep going back and trying again.

And if you're clever and persistent, if you just keep trying new things, then maybe - just maybe - one day, you can live that perfect day.

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