It’s February 2nd, traditionally known as ‘Groundhog Day’, in which a few of these critters, or their cousins, appear in various locations across Canada and the U.S., to supposedly ‘predict’ the early or late (read normal, per the calendar) arrival of Spring. In many places, celebrations take place to mark the occasion, most famously in the U.S. at Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, and in Canada at Wiarton, Ontario.
The 1993 comedic film Groundhog Day, focusing on the Punxsutawney zaniness, helped raise the profile of these happenings. It frequently resurfaces for viewing in concert with this date.
Indeed, the phrase itself, particularly thanks to the movie, has virtually entered the lexicon in connection with expressions about attempting to change repetitive behaviour. An episode of the original TV series The X-Files used the movie formula in one of its storylines. Such an homage (which is to say, plot plagiarism) has appeared periodically in other productions since.
There is a natural, deeper fascination with the ‘Groundhog Day’ concept. While recognizing that one definition of insanity is repeating the same behaviour and expecting a different result, the corollary in the visual arts is in applying slight twists to a ‘groundhog day’ chronology, and seeing how the direction of behaviours change, how the dominoes fall in an altered direction. One is reminded that a stone falling down a hillside can gain sufficient momentum to have the impact of a boulder.
Many of our attempts at self-improvement are predicated on the idea that little changes are easier to institute than major alterations of our actions or circumstances, given our natural reluctance to making dramatic changes, especially in the short term.
Consider goal setting, be it lifestyle, career-related, or whatever we seek to achieve removed from where we are now. Training ourselves to commit to smaller plans and steps as the practical way to obtaining the loftier heights of results takes discipline, practice, and persistence. The tendency to procrastinate, when it comes to bestirring low productive lassitude to action, often requires an external push, as from someone who gets a charge out of large scale bursts of mentoring. Thus we have had for many years the raison d’etre of the motivational speaker industry, often tied-in to in-house organizational training sessions.
As with the gradual evolution exhibited by characters in ‘Groundhog Day’, we can adapt and inculcate messages or lessons. While incremental in nature, they have a degree of eureka impact, especially if we view or feel the effect as positive, for ourselves and hopefully for those we encounter.
In that sense, we should be ready to face ‘Groundhog Day’ moments with anticipation every day, as long as we are alert enough not to take the historical source literally, psychologically following the little creature back into the ground.