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Tuesday, February 2, 2021

In Other Words: We Have All Been Living Groundhog Day

Abdulla Ali: Unsplash

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I did something boneheaded stupid when I was a kid (There are so many to choose) and my parents grounded me for a week. I wasn’t allowed to see my friends or go out. I went to school and that was it. I hated it.  

Now here I am grounded again but I didn’t even do anything boneheaded. 

Today is Groundhog Day, but every day has been Groundhog Day for almost a year now. And like the movie so many of us love, we live the same day every day. The Bill Murray movie character relives February 2nd again and again and again until he finally learns a valuable lesson. And that’s where I fear we are. The question is, though, what is the lesson?

I understand the Bill Murray character. I wake up. Drink coffee. Read the news. Listen to the weather. Shower. Dress. Walk. More coffee. Read. Emails. Do some work. Social media. Tinker around the house. Play some music. Maybe bake bread. Maybe take a nap. The weird dreams. Sleepless nights.

 The worst was missing funerals of friends and former students or taking care of sick family members, neighbors, and friends. A flower arrangement does not express the same emotional support or is an adequate expression of sorrow as a personal meeting. Being there matters. But we can't. 

All through this past year I have wondered when we will be able to see people again, hear live music, go to the movies, give and receive hugs, shake hands, not see people as potential spreaders, and to talk about masks in the past tense. To say “Remember when.” But I know better. 

Things aren’t changing anytime soon but when they do, and here is my prediction, it’s going to be the Roaring ‘20s all over again. After the influenza pandemic of the early 20th Century passed, the country partied because they had been confined.  The country had experienced a heavy death toll from a horrible virus and was ready to break free. And they did.  

For the past three years I have suffered a recurring diagnosis of lymphoma. I would get the diagnosis at the beginning of the year, take treatments through the spring, and recover the remainder of the year, only to repeat the cycle again and again and again. Every year was the same. Talk about a groundhog day. Now a horrible virus has me on home detention.  I am fortunate that I have not fallen ill. And I don't want to be ill. 

Ralph Katieb: Unsplash

At one point in the movie Murray’s love interest says to him that “Maybe it’s not a curse. Maybe it’s how you look at it.” That line is delivered so casually as if it were a toss away line. But that is the lesson of the movie and our time. Maybe this isn’t a curse but an opportunity for us. This is not a pollyanna view. Our attitude or viewpoint is vital to how we live, to how we grow. I have viewed death. I have suffered. I sometimes feel isolated.  But I have learned my lesson.

No matter what, we still have six weeks of winter left. We can’t change it. We can only accept it. Fighting it is futile. We have be here now, not in the past or future. We cannot bend the world to our will. We know what we have to do. We must live with the world, adapt to it, accept the change, and when we do, that’s when magic happens.

In the movie, a drunk in a bowling alley says to Bill Murray. “Is this glass half empty or full?” Well, which is it?

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