It’s February and we’re going through a rough stretch of winter here in the Northeast which, I know, is nothing compared to a typical winter in many other parts of the country. But we New Yorkers love to complain and complain we do about this winter over and over again. The complaining itself is getting very old IMO. Someone this morning even compared the repetitive snow storms to the film “Groundhog Day” which happens to be one of my favorite movies of all time.
Far from a stupid Bill Murray comedy, I think this film — corny as it sounds — contains within it the secret of life. And yeah, I know I’m not the first person to make this observation.
We can complain about this winter and let it get under our skin in much the same way Bill Murray’s character in the film complains and is sarcastic and whiney about pretty much everything. To punish him, some God somewhere sentences him to live the same day over and over again and that day happens to be one of his least favorite days — Groundhog Day — where he finds himself trapped in a little town he can’t wait to escape from. Each day, when Murray wakes up, he must re-live what he considers a wretched day. Nothing changes and he approaches the events the way he has approached his life — with sarcasm, disgust and a smug ‘knowledge’ that he is better than everyone else.
Murray’s character is so bereft at this turn of events that he’s driven to suicide but, when that doesn’t work, he slowly begins to change his attitude. Forced to live the same day over and over, he realizes the only thing that will make it better is his own attitude. He begins to care for people, to learn the piano, to empathize and voila, the day takes on new meaning!
He finds himself enjoying it. He cares for others, particularly an old man down on his luck. The Bill Murray who emerges is 180 degrees different than the Bill Murray who first entered the town. He has learned that the secret to life is how you approach it: are you selfish or selfless, do you care for others or only about yourself? Do you see the positive in what life sends you? Yes, you can complain about the winter or you can see how beautiful the snow is when it’s falling. You can bemoan your trapped car or you can enjoy not having to move it because alternate side of the street parking is suspended. You can hate shoveling the endless snow or you can see it as a good form of exercise.
It’s how you deal with life that matters. That is the secret and I found it in a very simple but wise Hollywoood movie.