Groundhog Day 2018: Connection

Looking at my blog and seeing that I haven't published an article since last year, one might think that I'm stuck in Groundhog Day of 2017. The fact is that a year has passed -- and what a year it has been. If you're wondering why you haven't seen an article from me in a while, it's because I have been largely focused on writing for my academic pursuits as well as some other fear related research. However, my mind is not on the intellectual parts of my life, it's on the people.

As I spend time in my usual Groundhog Day reflections, I find myself thinking about connection. Human connection and our connection to our own individual lives. In past reflections, I've written about chaos, time, fear, change, and tradition; the things that make up some constituent parts of life. One piece that seems to be missing is connection.

Today, as I watch the film Groundhog Day [IMDB] on repeat, I'm noticing how Phil connects with others. Throughout the film he forms greater connections with himself as he forms greater connections with the people in his life. The essence of connection is in our intention with it. When we connect with a person in our life, we must be conscious of the significance of the mutual impact of that connection. When we connect with a hobby or interest, we must acknowledge our investment of time and effort into developing a new skill, knowledge base, or practice.

In the film, Phil Connors recognizes the significance of connection as he considers the impact he can have and has already had on the lives of the people in Punxsutawney:
"When Chekhov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope.
Yet we know winter is just another step in the cycle of life.
But standing here among the people of Punxsutawney and basking in the warmth of their hearths and hearts,
I couldn't imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter."

"Ciao!" Image captured from Groundhog Day (1993) [IMDB]

When we focus our minds on our activities and reactions, we become lost in the day-to-day. To find substance in life, we must connect with it. We must become active participants in our own choices, not simply reactants to outside influence. That's not to say that outside influence has no place. In fact, it is through our interactions with the outside world that we discover ourselves. Without connection, life would be bleak and disjointed. Without compassion, life would be cold and empty. Without outside interaction, we would be stuck within our own inner worlds. Outside influences will always impact our lives, situations and people will always exhibit attempts at control over our autonomy. How we respond to those influences and how we choose to influence others is what defines a life of suffering or one of happiness.

Phil frees himself from his daily repetition through his connection with others. His freedom in life comes through his embracing the way that he can be a positive influence toward others. At the start, Phil views the repetition of life as doldrum and torment. For as long as he views the repetition as torment, it is his torture and seems to have no end, even in death. Once he uses the repetition to change his life and the lives of others, the cycle ends and he is free. He has transformed himself and countless others who are connected to him in life.

So, today, I encourage you to ponder the lives entwined with your own. In what ways can you positively influence others. How will you transform yourself and free yourself from the repetition of the day-to-day?
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