Groundhog Day

HOPEspotters, Hello!! It has certainly been a while. Our last encounter was on Election Night 2016 and after that post, I think I lost my voice a little bit. While many events moved me, inspired me, frustrated me, enlightened me, I found it all boggy for my blogg-y. Life has felt a bit like a game of dodgeball and only today did I finally catch one of those balls and create an “out”.  My moment of clarity was found at Gobbler’s Knob on this unsung holiday, Groundhog Day.

This morning I stood in my kitchen, making breakfast, packing lunches and emptying the dishwasher as I do on most days. Daily drudgery.  The “Today Show” was on in the background, as is our habit, and on this morning live feed was coming in from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Men in morning suits were lifting high their otherwise reclusive rodent to determine whether or not “he” saw a shadow.  Pomp and circumstance surrounded the announcement about the groundhog’s prediction for six more weeks of winter.

In today’s tumultuous times, Punxsutawney’s preservation of tradition is precious and brave. It was the kindest three minutes found on the morning news. The festivities reminded me, of course, of the classic Bill Murray, “Groundhog Day”.

If you haven’t seen it -- spoiler alert: Bill Murray is an ornery, generally dissatisfied meteorologist, assigned to cover Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney, and doesn’t hide his contempt for the tradition. In a bizarre twist, Murray’s character gets stuck in a time loop and relives Groundhog Day repeatedly. Initially, Murray takes every advantage of knowing he will be just fine in the morning to participate in bad behavior and debaucherous behavior. Then, his heart begins to soften for the community he comes to know so well and Murray takes advantage of the ability to prevent tragedies like the Mayor choking or a homeless person dying of the cold and begins to act as a superhero. Finally, Murray discovers a way to use the day he can’t seem to stop reliving to get his beautiful producer, for whom he has harbored feelings, to fall in love with him because he demonstrates his newly found goodness. It is that love that breaks him out of the time loop and move on with his life - happily.

So here I am, HOPEspotters, on February 2nd, with my typical call to action. We are 33 days into 2017 and any of you who may have made New Year’s Resolutions might be worrying about having broken them.

Friends, I am here to propose a movement, based on Bill Murray’s fictional character, to make a GROUNDHOG DAY RESOLUTION.

Here’s the thing: New Year’s Resolutions are typically punitive. ‘I do too much of this. I don’t do enough of that.’ We enter into them with the belief that a 12 month period, that magically begins on an evening celebrated with excess and awkward Mariah Carey performances, will transform us. Somehow turning the page in a calendar will give us more willpower. Less addictions. Greater focus.

And failure often results.

Groundhog Day Resolutions are a different animal altogether.  And we can all do this.

If we look at the example of Bill Murray’s character, we see that attempts at human betterment are valiant and admirable but not always life changing in the ways we expect. Despite learning to play the piano and speak a different language, he was still “stuck”. And isn’t this true? How many people, myself included, lose and gain weight because the bad habit driver still exists? That’s probably why people make the same New Year’s resolutions year after year with admirable optimism that “this” year is going to be “the year”.

I often joke that I am Bill Murray- reliving “Groundhog Day”. I get up. I get the boys up. I make breakfast. I make lunches. I clean the kitchen. I go to work. I talk to sick people with sad families. I have the same conversation. I talk on the phone. I sit in traffic. I go to Publix. I make dinner. I do laundry. I clean the kitchen. I go to bed.

Frankly, it’s disrespectful to paint that picture and I, of all people, should know better. I GET to do these things. My days, difficult as some may be, unsexy as most are, are days of privilege. And wouldn’t I be a better person if I just acknowledged that?

Sure. But that sounds like a New Year’s Resolution.

A Groundhog’s Day Resolution sounds a lot more like Jim Valvano’s speech at the ESPY’s, months before his untimely, but likely death from cancer. The acclaimed and fiery basketball coach wisely told an audience of athletes, “If you laugh, you think and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week you’re going to have something special.”

Or to return to the world of sport, the recently departed Craig Sager: “I will live my life full of love and full of fun. It’s the only way I know how.” And what was SO cool when Craig Sager died, his longtime friend, Steve Kerr, coach of the Golden State Warriors, asked the fans for - not a moment of silence in his friend’s honor, but a moment of joy.  

In hospice- and everyday life- I see SO MUCH BRAVERY. Life can present some scary and seemingly hopeless circumstances. And I stupidly fall prey, at times, to the feeling of powerlessness.

Recently, a young boy in our community died in a tragic accident. He was a lead in the about to be presented school play. Orange was his favorite color. One can not make sense of his death. Our community responded with a candlelight vigil. Mailboxes decorated in orange. And the play is going on, with his Mom continuing to volunteer.

That is real life grabbing love, being brave, and choosing not to be stuck on Groundhog’s day.

Tonight I stand symbolically in Gobbler’s Knob. I’m not looking at my good and bad habits. I’m looking at the opportunity to be “un-stuck” from the time loop and start to see the privilege in my life, seizing the messy, difficult, at times exhausting love. And it’s not easy, but it is most certainly the thing that will get me to the next day.

With love and HOPE,  Happy Groundhog’s Day, Friends!