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Lessons From Groundhog Day

Think about the big things you want in life:  happiness, success, great relationships, a sense of accomplishment and generosity, happy kids, and health.  Listed like that they may seem like important, but possibly hazy “ideas”.  Why do some people largely attain these universal, but murky aims, while others similarly situated do not? 

Robin and I have a standard gift that we always give to people when they get married:  a book and a movie.  The book is The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran, and the movie is Groundhog Day.

Bill Murray plays Phil Connors, a jerk weatherman covering a Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.  He wakes up that morning to “I Got You Babe” by Sonny and Cher on his clock radio and gets on with his day emceeing the festivities.  The movie takes shape the next morning when he wakes up to the same song and the same announcer saying the same thing.  In short order, he discovers that he is caught in a time loop where the same day is happening over and over again.

At first, he lives large acting like a jerk, womanizing and binge drinking.  Eventually though he comes to hate the day so much he actually tries to commit suicide by running his car off a cliff and other funny and ingenious means, but to no avail.  He continues to wake up to Groundhog Day:  the same people, the same events, the same weather, the same everything.  One of those people he is stuck in the loop with is Rita, a coworker who he becomes very sweet on, but she hates him because he acts like such a selfish ass.

The whole movie is fun, but now to the part I love and which means so much to me:

A day finally arrives when he becomes so sick of himself and the same old bullshit person he is living with every day (himself) that he makes a decision to live his Groundhog Days with more passion and meaning.  He learns to play the piano, sculpt ice, and speak French.  He also tries to bring joy to the lives of those same old characters that he sees every day, and he does.  He tries repeatedly to save a homeless guy that dies every day but can never stop it.  But he changes.  

Finally one Groundhog Day he has come so full circle that he gives a moving speech at the Groundhog Day celebration and Rita sees him in a completely differently light.  She’s taken with him, but he’s got things to do and learn and live; he’s not chasing her anymore.  Of course they end up together by the end of the day in each other’s arms.  The next morning the alarm clock goes off and it’s no longer Groundhog Day.

I think life is Groundhog Day.  Mostly life IS the same people and places, the same stuff happening over and over again.  Right?  Not quite the loop that Bill Murray was in, but not that far off.  The same people that pissed Bill Murray off at the beginning of the movie are the people who he finds joy interacting with later.  The only thing that changed was Bill.

This movie came out in 1993, the year I got divorced.  I feel strongly that what you get out of your relationships is a function of decisions you make and actions you take.  If you pour your time into being the best you that you can be, there is a good chance you will deserve and have great relationships with others.  The movie Groundhog Day nails that one for me.

We’re all caught in a loop.  Whether we love it or hate it is up to us!

Hate it:  blame the people, places and things in your day. 

Love it:  make a decision and take action to be the best person you can be every day.

Happy Groundhog Day!

Scott

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Scott Gittrich

Scott’s unwavering affection for pizza became a full-fledged love affair when he decided to drop out of college to focus on a career at Domino’s after only two weeks on the job. The gamble paid off as he worked his way up through the company’s system. He stayed focused on having a successful career in the restaurant industry and he decided to create a pizza concept, Toppers Pizza, which delivered unique, fresh food made from scratch that rivaled anything available. Pizza is the best food in the world, there’s nothing that’s as celebratory and fun as pizza. It brings people together like no other product on earth.

4 comments

  1. Eric Mace says:

    Groundhog Day was the very first movie I ever saw in a theater by myself. It was kind of scary because I was only 31. 😉 I was living on my own out in Portland, OR starting up a new job while MK and Ryanne stayed back in Illinois until our house sold. The movie really stuck with me and I have thought of it a lot over the years since then – even more in just last 9 years. Nice thought provoking piece here with an under-current message that needs to be pounded home with the divisions we have in our society these days – be nice to people ‘cuz you’re gonna be seeing them again soon.

    1. Scott Gittrich says:

      Don’t try to pull politics into this. I don’t need half of humanity to hate me all the sudden! For the purposes of this blog I am a political agnostic. But I guess nice works for everyone in theory. Thanks for that reminder Eric.

  2. Dan Loichinger says:

    I love that movie Scott. Thanks for making the personal connections for us. Time to watch it again. I always enjoy the perspective you bring in life and in writing.

    1. Scott Gittrich says:

      Thanks Dan. I am blessed to have 2 social workers for parents, so I’m wired to look at movies that way! A River Runs Through It is another of my favorites.

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