Failure on repeat / Drive for miles just to turn around and play it back again / Failure on repeat, failure on repeat / Failure … We make love to the same mistakes.
If you could change one little thing, then everything might change.
– Harold Ramis, filmmaker
In two days, it’s Super Bowl Sunday–or, as I prefer to call it (because I don’t follow sports), New U2 Song Day.
But Sunday is also Groundhog Day, a popular tradition made even more famous by the 1993 film of the same name.
In the film, an arrogant and self-centred Pittsburgh TV weatherman named Phil Connors (Bill Murray) travels to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania with his producer (Andie MacDowell) and cameraman (Chris Elliott) to cover the town’s Groundhog Day festivities. When a blizzard forces the trio to spend an additional night in Punxsutawney, Phil wakes up to find he is reliving February 2. He is caught in a time loop and repeats the same day over and over again.
At first, Phil is bewildered. Eventually, he uses the day to indulge his every desire (seduce women, eat whatever he wants, rob an armored van) and then makes numerous suicide attempts before beginning to re-examine his life and priorities.
If you have never seen Groundhog Day, it’s worth watching. (I also recommend reading TransparencyNow.com’s thoughtful analysis of the film.) It’s a funny movie, and Bill Murray gives a masterful performance: As the film progresses, you see Phil change from an antagonistic, irksome character into someone you sympathize with and eventually root for.
But I also enjoy Groundhog Day because ultimately, it’s a film about making the the best of the circumstances you’re in, helping other people and breaking unhealthy patterns.
Harold Ramis, who directed and co-wrote Groundhog Day, says as much in an interview that is included on the film’s 15th anniversary DVD.
“My Groundhog Day is probably pretty much the life I lead, which is pry why people relate to the film–because everyone feels, to a certain extent, that they’re living the same day over and over again,” Ramis says.
“I feel like I’m stuck with myself. I keep making the same mistakes over and over again. Every time there’s a potential for a disagreement with my wife, I say ‘Oh, don’t say that, I know I shouldn’t say that–this is really gonna piss her off. Don’t say it.’ And then I say it.”
“How many times do you have to relive the same argument with someone, or make the same mistake in your life?” Ramis continues. “The key to Groundhog Day for any of us, and for me in particular, is having the insight, the courage and the energy to make those changes. When you come to those moments where you could make the same mistake again–we face those choices every single day…
“If you could change one little thing, then everything might change.
“And to that extent, I feel somewhat stuck … [but] I’ve come to appreciate in my own life what risk-taking can mean in a positive sense, and how positively you can change your life if you’re just willing to act on it.”
Like Ramis, I’ve had my fair share of Groundhog Days in the past, and I still get caught up in unhealthy patterns–we all do. I know what it’s like to be intimately familiar with my mistakes, and to fail and fail and fail again.
I know what it’s like to realize I could make a change, only to back down from making that change because it made me uncomfortable–I wasn’t sure of what the outcome would be, and that scared me.
But I also know what it’s like to find it in myself to make a small change. I know what it’s like to build on that small change until it becomes easier to make even more changes.
I know what it’s like to change the outcome of my Groundhog Day. It can be done.
In what ways are you living your own Groundhog Day? If there was one thing you could change about it today, what would that be?
Whatever your answer is, I wish for you the courage and energy to take the risk and make the change.