I love the 1993 cult classic “Groundhog Day.“ Bill Murray is the quintessential egotistical weatherman in this flick about a man who is locked into a 24 hour period that is set on repeat. And repeat. And repeat. It’s such a hilarious concept that I look forward to watching it every year, even with commercials (haha, that’s an inside Butterfield family joke).
What would you do with an extra month of your life, replayed in the same day over and over, with no loss of future days? Bill’s character Phil Connors’ goes through several phases of denial, self-indulgence, self-loathing and finally, acceptance and growth. I love this last period of his journey in which he improves himself by learning to speak French, play the piano, and ice sculpt. He also attempts to save a homeless man but learns that it’s just “his time.” He plans his schedule around other rescues—elderly ladies with a flat tire, a boy who falls out of a tree and the mayor who chokes during his dinner and would have presumably expired. It is in this final phase that Phil learns the joy of selflessness and thereby wins his leading lady and breaks the curse of Groundhog Day.
This movie really encourages self-reflection. What would I do if I had Phil Connors episode? What if I had an unlimited supply of the same 24 hours with no consequence at the dawn of the new day? Would I take advantage and live like a queen for 24 hours, with no thought to those around me and be a disgusting example of self-indulgence? Or would I wallow in self-pity that I am stuck living in the same moments over and over?
Immediately I think of dreams that I didn’t achieve as a child or youth that I would like to go back and try to have the experiences: taking ballet classes, learning to play an instrument, participating in a team sport; but some of these things I might be too old to acquire, even with an unlimited supply of time. Could I make a difference to others like Phil did by saving people’s lives? I would like to think that I could plant seeds of encouragement in individual lives that might grow, even though I was stuck in a 24 hour prison. Maybe I could prevent a child from being abused or going to bed hungry.
A perpetual day—at least for a season—is an interesting idea and perhaps the message is that I should live as though I have this one chance to make a change or to grow personally, without the prospect that I have the day to do over again.