For the Love of Groundhog Day!

I have always loved Groundhog Day. Not the movie, but the actual holiday itself. It just so happens that the very odd, overweight furry creature in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania has been able to fairly accurately determine the meteorological fate of my birthday each year. Will I be able to wear a dress in the month of March, or not? A birthday al fresco, or indoors? Without fail, the Groundhog always has the answer. To add to the significance of the day, it is also my husband and my anniversary, so February 2nd has a very special place in my heart.

With a love for such an obscure holiday, you would think the movie “Groundhog Day” would be my jam. But, it’s not and never has been. I mean, if it was on TV, I would watch it for a bit, but would always end up changing the channel. However, between the pandemic and distance learning, the movie has taken on a whole new meaning for me. I am living “Groundhog Day,” every day!!! Literally, every single day in my house has been the same exact routine for the past 11 months. Yes, it’s true that weekends allow us to break from our normal Monday through Friday regimen, but it is still basically the same, just maybe in a different order. Groundhog Day, Groundhog Day, Groundhog Day!

And luckily for me, today is Groundhog Day, both literally and figuratively! And on this particular Groundhog Day, I am conflicted. On one hand, I know Punxsutawney Phil will see his shadow, freak himself out and we will have another 6 weeks of winter, which really means isolation and monotony. However, his ornery sensibilities pull at my heart, and I find him just so stinking cute. Were we not in the throes of a pandemic, I would be rooting for this little guy to see his shadow, hoping that along the way he got a bite of the unfortunate man who rips him out of his cozy burrow. To hell with 6 more weeks of winter! How grand to have arctic excuses to not socialize, leave my house or start a diet. But this year is different. We are still in the midst of a pandemic, have been burrowing and avoiding society for practically a year, and I’m just so f*cking tired of the same day on repeat over and over again.

Adding to my internal conflict, we are getting our 2nd round of Covid-19 tests today. We initially got tested and quarantined over the holidays because I got sick. I was the only one who tested positive, and had odd symptoms for three weeks including fatigue and trouble breathing. The most bizarre part was not that I was sick for nearly a month, but that somehow, no one else in our small family “burrow” was infected. I mean yes, those three weeks sucked, but more importantly it was only me. A friendly doctor of ours said, “You probably had ‘a’ COVID, but not ‘the’ COVID, because if you did, the whole family would have had it.” Well that statement really just leaves me reeling. WTF?!?! I had to quarantine my family like it was “the” Covid and it certainly felt like it was “the” Covid when I was having trouble breathing for three weeks! So here we are, testing today because not only am I sick this time, but my husband is too.  Completely different symptoms from last time, thank the Lord, but nevertheless symptoms. Damn it, it’s Groundhog Day again! Looking forward to many more days of complete quarantine/isolation. (Not!!)

If you are somehow unfamiliar with the “Groundhog Day” movie, here’s a short recap: Bill Murray plays a cantankerous weatherman covering the Groundhog Day events in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, and gets stuck repeating the same day, over and over again, until he breaks the cycle by becoming a better person.

The irony of this dark comedy is that Bill Murray’s character, Phil, starts as an ill-tempered and cynical guy, but as the days progress (or don’t progress, just repeat!), he loses touch with his sanity and goes from irritable to downright malevolent. Upon reaching “rock bottom,” Phil turns himself around, lives a truly fantastic and altruistic day, and the vicious Groundhog Day cycle is broken. From a philosophical or a religious perspective, this theme is nothing new: sinner hits the lowest of lows, finds enlightenment, and reaches the highest of highs.

But what psychological lesson can we learn from this tale? How does this apply to the “Groundhog Day” experience we are all currently living through, and what can we take to help us survive, or even thrive, in this situation? Now, I am not about to go ballistic on an insurance salesman like Phil did in the film, but I am certainly losing it in my own way and can empathize with him in this respect. For example, I may or may not have recently tried to use social media to berate a company for the atrocious Christmas tree they delivered to our house.

The holidays really highlighted the realization that I no longer have the same love or enjoyment that I once had for so many of the mundane activities in my life. What I once found exciting is now exhausting, taxing and, in many cases, downright frustrating.  When I made my public proclamation of disappointment in said Christmas tree company, several dear friends asked why I felt driven to such an extreme. My response? “Why not? I have nothing else going on.” I agree, it is 100% petty and not my finest moment. Thankfully, no true social media dispute ensued, and all has been forgotten. But now, I must question: Why? Why did I really feel it so necessary to spew my fury publicly? Was it an attempt to quell boredom, or something more?

Like so many of us, my “inner Phil” is raging right now. Raging for freedom of choice and for an end to the monotony. Yearning for fear to dissipate, and a return to a different kind of normal than what we are all facing right now. Human beings are meant to be social, and when we aren’t, depression, isolation and loneliness can become real things in our lives. But, just as Phil finds a way to move on to enlightenment, we too shall find a way to the next chapter. And it’s okay if we’re just not there yet.

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