—If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes. —John Wooden
—…[I]f you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something. —Neil Gaima
—The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today. —H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
—Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’ —Martin Luther King, Jr.
Soon it will be Groundhog Day. The day itself may not mean much to anyone, but the movie named after it is certainly worth its wait in days. Yes, worth its “wait,” that is, come New Year’s Day, I start counting off the days to February 2 so I can once again watch my favorite movie.
Yes, I do have the video and occasionally watch it in between one Groundhog Day and another, from year to year, but there’s something special about watching it on that very day, on TV — kind of like watching Miracle on 34th Street or It’s a Wonderful Life on Christmas Eve.
Unlike the above-mentioned movies that are exactly what they are and always will be, Groundhog Day allows for one to personalize the situations in their mind to mirror their own need for awareness and change.
Bill Murray starts out as a man who is not at all aware of the needs or even “beingness” of others, being very self-centered and egotistical and not very likeable at all. As a TV weatherman who is once again assigned to what he considers a very undesirable and boring assignment, the Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, all the forces of
the universe (so to speak) conspire to teach him all the lessons he needs to know to not only become a decent, likable human being, but to actually like himself and finally win the love of his life because of his new awareness and extremely improved behavior.
It was no easy task to bring those amazing changes to bear, since he was a hard case and did not easily learn. What we, the viewers of the movie, learn, in watching his journey toward change, is that apparently we will get the same lesson over and over again until we “get” it. Along the way, during the time he is not “getting” it, he becomes not only bored with the constant repetition of the lessons, but frustrated, annoyed and even pushed to the edge of his sanity,
willing to do anything to “test” the limits of this strange repetitious day by trying various modes of suicide — none of which, obviously, work.
As we view the movie, we can imagine all the things we might need to change in our own life and all the many chances we might have had to make those changes a reality, yet somehow, as with the character Bill Murray played, we did not “get” it the first — or even the second — time around, and so the lesson keeps coming back to us — if not in the very same recognizable way, than in some other way, yet bearing the same lesson we need to learn.
Although for Murray’s character, everything in his life that needed to be changed (that we were allowed to know of) changed for the better and he became likable and lovable and was a whole new improved person,
many people might watch that movie and not see the totally realistic lesson for themselves therein: The mistakes and behaviors that we continuously make can only cause us — and everyone around us — misery, as long as we don’t recognize them for what they are and strive to get the lessons they are repeatedly endeavoring to teach us.
Perhaps one of the biggest lessons we could learn from this movie — if indeed we were willing and aware enough to learn — would be to look at the ongoing results of our behavior in our own life: what do we see all around us that continues to happen following what we (people in particular and/or people in general) continue to do? If we return violence for violence, we get more violence. If we even return rudeness for rudeness, we are only contributing more rudeness to the world and will continue to reap such rudeness. Physically punish a child for some “misdeed,” and when he or she grows up, that child may not only pass on the same kind of punishment to their own children, but may add their own “interesting twists” on the punishment, turning it into full-blown child abuse. And it doesn’t end there. Being used to inflicting physical punishment on one’s own children makes it easier to then inflict physical abuse on one’s other family members, others’ children, one’s neighbors, strangers on the street, strangers in another town, strangers in another country, and whole groups of people throughout the world that for some reason you just don’t like or who you believe don’t like you. And so the cycle of violence continues because the very first time it raised its ugly head in this or that person’s life, they did not “get” it and did not choose to see any lesson in it, and either allowed it or perpetrated it yet again, adding, perhaps, some additional touches to personalize the violence to their own taste.
I’m a very big fan of nonviolence, but as Groundhog Day, the movie, shows, the common things that are more likely to surface are exactly what Murray’s character did not learn until they were “pounded” into him: kindness and the many opportunities to be kind; awareness of others’ needs and the doing of something about such things; the desire to make a difference in the lives of others, even by contributing to their happiness and joy… and the like.
If we could all muse a little on how we might look as the new improved person we could be and then “get” it, how much better the whole world would be!
Here’s to a happy Groundhog Day and everyone who gets it!
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Maramis Choufani is the Managing Editor of the Las Vegas Tribune. She writes a weekly column in this newspaper. To contact Maramis, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.