I’m a weatherbug and I love to watch the weather, and once again on this date, February 2nd, I’m reminded that today is Groundhog Day. When Groundhog Day rolls around, I am also reminded of one of my favorite movies of all time and of the same name, Groundhog Day. That movie, featuring Bill Murray, Andie McDowell and Chris Elliot and directed by Harold Ramis, made a huge impact on my philosophy of life.
Groundhog Day is the story of Phil the reporter, comically played by Bill Murray, who has been assigned to cover the story of Groundhog Day for the 4th straight year. He cares little about the “rat” as he called it and whether or not that “rat” will see clouds or sun. He’s not happy about this podunk assignment and vents his frustration on everyone during Groundhog Day. But the next morning, he wakes to find that it’s Groundhog Day again. And again. And again.
You might recall that Bill Murray and Harold Ramis both starred in the movie, Ghostbusters, but few people remember their work in Groundhog Day. I suppose the reason for this is that as enlightening as Groundhog Day was, most people still watched Groundhog Day like they were watching some of Murray’s other movies like, Caddyshack, Stripes or Ghostbusters. I think the vast majority of viewers missed the philosophical message transmitted by the movie Groundhog Day.
What was that message? Every day is the same in a relative way, and we get to decide what to do with it. With each repeat of Groundhog Day, Phil the reporter learns that the same events happen each day, but he gets to decide what to do with each day.
Back in the days when I used to rent DVDs and play them on my DVD player, the package came with a movie DVD and sometimes, an “extras” DVD. The extras disk usually included outtakes, interviews and other trivia information for the fans.
The extras DVD for Groundhog Day included an interview with Harold Ramis, the director of the film. During the interview, Ramis explained that the original plot was that Phil the reporter, was stuck in a time loop, living and reliving the same day for 10,000 days. Ramis said that for obvious reasons, the plot was cut short.
The most interesting part of the interview with Ramis was his discussion of the letters he received. Ramis said that during the years that followed the release of the movie, he received thousands of letters from all over the world. The letters were from people of many different faiths and all of them had one common theme: Your movie tells our story. That’s us you’re talking about.
My experience watching the movie (several times now) and the interview with Mr. Ramis, inspired me to integrate what I learned from the movie and Mr. Ramis, as a part of my own philosophy. I err on the side of peace. I live a life of relative peace. Every day is the same in a relative way (thanks, Pink Floyd), and I get to decide what to do with it (thanks Harold Ramis and Bill Murray, et. al.).
Most days for me are pretty much the same. I rise, I write, I work. I am father, husband, student, teacher, guardian, philosopher, and worker. Every hour of every minute I get to decide what I will do with this day. Do I want to create drama? Or do I want to be the observer? Do I want to respond, or do I want to react? As I grow older and gain experience, I am learning to observe and respond rather than to react quickly and brashly. I have learned that a gram of peace is worth a kilo of drama.
Just one act of peace, kindness or compassion can help me to avoid days, weeks or even months of drama. Because of this line of thinking, this philosophy, I have no personal adversaries. I never have to look over my shoulder. The number of days between dramatic events grow longer and longer. I choose to act in a such a way that I know that I can go to sleep at night knowing I did the right thing.
I do what I do not because this is how the world is. I do what I do because this is how I want the world to be.