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Groundhog Day Revisited

May 4, 2017 | by Emuna Braverman

Why do I find every morning, afternoon and evening to be the same?

With a new Broadway musical based on the 1993 movie, Groundhog Day is back in the news.

The film told the story of a weatherman covering (what else?) groundhog day who gets trapped in a time warp and finds himself forced to relive the same day over and over – and over – again – until he gets it right.

I must not be getting something right because I seem to be experiencing some symptoms of groundhog day myself.

Every morning is the same – wake up, make the bed, pray, empty the dishwasher, exercise on the treadmill, teach…

Every afternoon is the same – more teaching, some writing, more praying, talk to my kids (both near and far), prepare dinner…

Every evening is the same – clean up from dinner, take a walk with my husband, a second dinner with my daughter who works late, class preparation, collapse into bed. Sleep and repeat.

Groundhog Day.

The sameness can be numbing. Life can feel like a grim endurance test instead of an exciting adventure and opportunity.

Andy Karl in the Broadway smash, Groundhog Day

How do I break this slump? How do I inject some zip back into my days? What do I have to get right so that each day isn’t, as Yogi Berra said, “Déjà vu all over again.”

Clearly I need an attitude switch. I haven’t been counting my blessings. I haven’t been focused on my opportunities. I haven’t been appreciating all the good.

We are all doomed to live out Groundhog Day unless we constantly choose to infuse our lives with meaning and focus on our gifts. I know the switch I need to make – just sometimes I’d rather go back to bed with a pint of ice cream!

It begins with Modeh ani – with the first words of prayer out of my mouth upon waking being an expression of gratitude for the gift of another day. Yes, morning comes all too soon but I am still lucky for the opportunity of another day (that should go without saying). I need to begin with an enthusiastic “Thank you!” versus my usual mumbled version.

The Code of Jewish Law states that we should get up like a lion. I think I’ve been misinterpreting this. I’ve been harking back to my last experience at the zoo. The lion definitely did not bounce out of bed with a spring to its gait. It yawned and stretched and arose very, very slowly. That can’t be what the Torah means. We need to strengthen ourselves in the manner of the king of beasts in order to be able to face the day’s challenges.

If I make that extra effort, I will confront the day head-on – with excitement and valor. But I have to make the choice. I can allow the day – and its burdens to defeat me (where’s that ice cream?) or I can use my strengths to make the most of the moment that is in front of me right now and focus on the opportunity that lies ahead. Forget that sleepy lion; I can bound out of bed and throw myself energetically into the day.

And forget that elusive groundhog. As the expression goes, “Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.” But I won’t forget and I am able to change. I can treat the new day with the excitement it merits (I am really trying to believe this pep talk!) and with appropriate appreciation.

I recently heard a radio interview with one of the original cast members of Groundhog Day (Someone keeps trying to tell me something!). Apparently the movie was initially going to be more of a screwball comedy but Harold Ramis, the director, threw out a day’s worth of shooting (an expensive proposition) so that he could craft a more meaningful project.

The effects of that decision are impacting our lives to this day. Mr. Ramis taught us all an important message, one that continues to reverberate to this day.

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