Groundhog Day 2020: Hope

It's Groundhog Day!
If you're reading this I'm sure you're well aware of my Groundhog Day reflections, so I'll jump right into it....

In the film Groundhog Day [IMDB], when Phil Connors begins his long long day, we watch him first experience confusion, then panic, then he tries to indulge his ego and distract himself from his own shallow existence. Those indulgences and distractions are only temporary and eventually reality hits him with a slap to the face. He crashes into despair and hopelessness. Time and time again, he tries to end his empty experience, even attempting to kill himself in various ways. Eventually, we see him seated with Rita as he confides in her his belief that he is a god, an immortal being, bound to endless torture in a single day.

While amazed at his knowledge of the townspeople, Rita is undaunted in her patience. As they spend the day together, Rita displays her general optimism which is quite contrary to how Phil approaches life at that point in the film. Earlier, Phil was the subject of a spot on observation by Gus in the bowling alley: "You know, some people would see this glass and say it's half full. Other people would say it's half empty. I'm thinking you're a half-empty kind of guy." Gus is right about Phil in at least two ways. Not only is Phil a pessimist -- seeing the glass as half empty, he's also a half-empty person. Phil is so wrapped up in himself that he doesn't see the world around him.

Rita casually mentions how she would use the opportunity to repeat a day. Her optimistic idea nudges Phil to take a new perspective on his experience: "I don't know, Phil. Maybe it's not a curse. It depends on how you look at it." The next morning, he is fresh and excited to embrace his journey as a whole. He leaps out of bed and begins treating every person he can with kindness. Each day is a new day. One new morning, we see him leave his room and answer his fellow hotel guest with the words, "Winter slumbering in the open air, wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring!"
That line is from the 19th century poem, I've included here:
Work without Hope
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
February 1825

All Nature seems at work. Slugs leave their lair.
The bees are stirring, birds are on the wing.
And Winter slumbering in the open air,
Wears on his smiling face a dream of Spring!

And I the while, the sole unbusy thing,
Nor honey make, nor pair, nor build, nor sing.

Yet well I ken the banks where amaranths blow,
Have traced the fount whence streams of nectar flow.
Bloom, O ye amaranths! bloom for whom ye may,
For me ye bloom not! Glide, rich streams, away!
With lips unbrightened, wreathless brow, I stroll:
And would you learn the spells that drowse my soul?
Work without Hope draws nectar in a sieve,
And Hope without an object cannot live.

I've written before about the importance of connection and creating purpose for yourself. Those fundamentals are certainly important, but beneath those fundamentals is a foundation of hope. Phil's hopeless pessimism is what destroys his dreams time and time again. He tries to get what he wants, but he never really buys into the journey. He only reaches for the destination. Once Phil embraces his experiences with hope, we see him begin to change as a person. Phil's daily work becomes full of hope, not empty like the result of attempting to catch nectar in a sieve.

Think of this while you pass these last minutes before midnight or while you embrace your new day. What is your Spring? What hope is in your dreams? Will you endure winter in the open air, keeping warm with a dream of Spring?
I think I will. Colorado has a "big blue thing" on its way tonight, so I HOPE I can stay warm with a dream of my Spring, both literal and metaphorical.



By the way, this year's Groundhog Day has TWO special bonuses!
First, today's date is a palindrome whether you write it 2020-02-02 (yyyy-mm-dd), 02-02-2020 (dd-mm-yyyy), or 02-02-2020 (mm-dd-yyyy).
Second, Bill Murray was in an ad today which played a bit with his role in Groundhog Day:

His day sure does look full of hope.

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