“What would you do if you were stuck in one place, and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?”
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about movies which have had a profound impact on my faith. One such movie is the 1993 comedy Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray and Andie McDowell. Our lead character Phil, an arrogant TV weatherman is assigned to cover the annual Groundhog Day celebration in Puxatawney, PA and manages to become stuck in a time loop where he awakes promptly at 6:00 a.m. February 2nd every. single. day. Phil spirals into a pattern of hedonism, hopeless pursuits and eventually repeated suicide attempts that simply reset the clock on yet another Groundhog Day. In order to change the date, Phil has to change his ways with the help of Rita and her positive outlook.
How many days do we wake up and it feels like it’s the same day all over again? From the moment our feet hit the floor, we’re already weighed down with dread. The same job, the same people, the same hopeless pursuits. How many of us are all living our own personal versions of Groundhog Day? With our arrogantly cast eyes on the daily tasks that lie ahead of us often feeling as if the monotony is beneath us. We act out in self-righteous little tantrums, giving only half-hearted effort in our work, ignoring the people who speak to us, giving free reign to our vices, and when we reach our breaking point, we give up on that day. Yet tomorrow is waiting for us when our morning alarm sounds and there’s another day just like it ahead of us. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
How often we forget that tomorrow isn’t promised. We take for granted the daily monotony rather than see it for the blessing that it truly is. Such a blessing that we have another day. A day to do our best at our job and be grateful that we have one. A day to really listen to the people who think kindly enough to speak to us and let us get to know them. A day to let go of our vices and turn towards more meaningful pursuits that feed us spiritually.
Let me be the first to raise my hand and admit I am living in my own Groundhog Day. My alarm today was a phone call which woke me from not nearly enough sleep and in my annoyance that my own version of “Ned Ryerson” had the audacity to disturb me at such an early hour, I was rude. I didn’t listen to what “Ned” had to say. Looking back on that moment of how my day began, I wish I had thought to thank the Lord that I had woken in the first place, so that I might have answered that phone call with humility and listened. I set about my workday distracted, making frequent trips to the Keurig for another cup of tea that I didn’t really want. All I really wanted a break from being slumped over my desk.
Phil undergoes his transformation but never loses his edge. He becomes a better Phil, not a different Phil. The movie doesn’t get all soppy at the end. There is the dark period when he tries to kill himself, the reckless period when he crashes his car because he knows it doesn’t matter, the times of despair.
We see that life is like that. Tomorrow will come, and whether or not it is always Feb. 2, all we can do about it is be the best person we know how to be. The good news is that we can learn to be better people. There is a moment when Phil tells Rita, “When you stand in the snow, you look like an angel.” The point is not that he has come to love Rita. It is that he has learned to see the angel. – Roger Ebert, The Chicago Sun Times, January 30, 2005
Cliché as it sounds, tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone. We only have today and the person we choose to be. If I’m blessed to wake up to another day just like this one “tomorrow”, I can only pray that I will wake up with more humility than I did today. That I will thank the Lord that I have another today, and maybe this one I will humbly face with a positive attitude. That I will do my best in my job, thankful that I have one. That I will listen to the people who think kindly enough to speak to me. That I will replace those vices with spiritual fullness in the hope that someday I will wake up to the REAL tomorrow that God has promised us.