(Fantasy comedy film directed by Harold Ramis, starring Bill Murray, Andie MacDowell, and Chris Elliott. Released in 1993. Available on Amazon and DVD.com- a Netflix company)
What would you do if you were living the same day every day over and over again?
And there was nothing you could do to change this?
Imagine becoming a prisoner of time.
In Groundhog Day, Bill Murry plays Phil Connors, an arrogant and self-centered Pittsburgh TV weatherman who is unhappy, very cynical and always complaining – about everyone and everything.
During an assignment covering the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, he falls into a time loop, repeating the same day again and again. Phil already feels nothing but contempt for his co-workers (portrayed by Andie MacDowell and Chris Elliott) as well as for the whole concept of Groundhog Day as well as the residents of Punxsutawney whom he refers to as ‘hicks.’
And now he is stuck with them every day for eternity!
While Phil Connors literally repeats the same day over and over again, many of us do this in our lives when we meet the same situations or challenges again and again- different places, different faces yet the same story.
Eckhart Tolle in a YouTube video shares how he has enjoyed watching Groundhog Day about a half-dozen times. Eckhart states that “basically everyone has his or her own Groundhog Day in the head until they transcend it.”
So how do we break through? How do we transcend this cycle of suffering?
Phil attempts to face this time warp first with a display of hedonism. He takes advantage of the fact that there are no consequences to his actions since he will wake up again to the same day. He indulges in reckless driving, eating everything he wants, and in nightly casual sexual encounters.
But soon he falls into a hopeless depression. He even commits suicide-not once, but many times in many different ways.
Yet the next day he awakens again – to the same day- without a single scratch or bruise.
Finally, he confides to his co-worker Rita (portrayed by Andie MacDowell) about his dilemma. Rita, the epitome of kindness and positivity, suggests to him that maybe living the same day is not so bad after all. It all really depends on how he chooses to view his experience.
Something shifts suddenly for Phil. The next day he awakens to the same day but his attitude is completely different.
Instead of seeing his life as ‘stuck’ or himself as a ‘prisoner’ of time, he finds a way to become a master of time by performing acts of kindness, and finding ways to be helpful. The next day he awakens to a new day, with Rita- whom he has grown to love- by his side.
In the YouTube video, Eckhart comments that Phil is released from the cycle of suffering by accepting and surrendering to the present moment. He is set free when he surrenders to what is right in front of him in a positive way- by serving, being helpful and sharing love and kindness. By participating actively to relieve the suffering of others, he is released from his own suffering.
Watch the movie and see if you are not also repeating Groundhog Day again and again in your life….and determine to set yourself and others free!