My dear readers, the sun has made its glorious return to our daily lives. After the past few weeks of snow and ice, it felt as though we might never feel that warmth again. Now, this is not to say that winter is over. Our sources are muddled on that point. According to my hometown groundhog, ‘French Creek Freddy,’ we have an early spring to look forward to. However, according to ‘Punxsutawney Phil,’ the mainstream weather forecasting groundhog, we have some winter to muddle through before spring.
I am far from the first to make this observation, but at times, this past year of quarantining has felt like we are living in the 1993 film, Groundhog Day.
Groundhog Day is one of my parent’s favorite movies. I can’t imagine February 2nd not seen through the lens of Bill Murray’s sarcastic and relatable character, Phil Conner the weatherman.
While Groundhog Day is obviously a fictional and comedic story of a cynical television weatherman getting stuck in a seemingly never-ending loop of the same day, with a closer look at the film, I gathered some life lessons. I’ll admit that an annual viewing of the film allows for a deeper look at well.
At first glance, the story of Groundhog Day is actually terrifying. Being hopelessly stuck in one spot with the same things happening every day is something most people try to avoid. When Conner is initially thrown into this loop, he fights tooth and nail to escape. He tells everyone, begging them to help, but no one can see the problem; it is just another day for them, well, another Groundhog Day.
As the movie progresses, Conner goes to terrible lengths to escape his time loop, even attempting to end his own life on several occasions, only to wake up to that familiar song, “I Got You Babe,” by Sonny and Cher playing through his bed and breakfast’s alarm clock radio. He slaps the alarm clock into silence, devastated to have woken up in the same place.
The monotony of Groundhog Day is broken only when Conner accepts his fate and looks inside himself. Through this process, he comes to love the people of Punxsutawney, Penn. and starts helping them through the struggles he knows they will face throughout his repeated day.
In my opinion, the most heart-wrenching part of the movie is Conner’s attempts to save an elderly homeless man, played by Les Podewell. He finds the man sleeping outside in the cold and tries repeatedly to save his life by feeding him, getting him warm, even administering CPR to the man throughout several loops of the same day. In the end, a nurse at the hospital tells Conner that sometimes people just die.
Conner learns his greatest lesson by acting with compassion, with no ulterior motive. Earlier in the film, he spent all of his looped days attempting to seduce Rita, his coworker. As the film progresses, Rita falls for Conner’s compassion toward others, not his initial posturing which she rejected.
This film contains a lot of messages, for those who want to receive them. At the surface, it is a comedy. At it’s core, Groundhog Day is the story of a man finding a better life and a better version of himself through the trials and tribulations of his predicament and acting with compassion for others.
We may feel as if the COVID-19 pandemic is our own personal Groundhog Day. We have been stuck inside and quarantining away from our loved ones for nearly a year and while it is perfectly acceptable, and recommended, to wait for the vaccine, I’d like to take some time to examine the motives behind my own actions for the remainder of the pandemic.
While many random acts of kindness might not fall under social distancing guidelines, there are plenty acts of kindness we can enact through the rest of the pandemic. Here is my proposal: let’s see just how much we can change our own outlook on the pandemic, by showing kindness to others on a daily basis. Who knows, we might come out on the other side with a more beautiful life than we could have imagined.
— Contact Emily Rice at firstname.lastname@example.org