Has anyone here seen the film Groundhog Day? Remember, that film from the 90’s about a man who finds himself living the same day over and over and over again? He is the only person in his world who knows this is happening and after going though periods of dismay and bitterness, revolt and despair, suicidal self destruction and cynical recklessness, he begins to do something that is alien to his nature. He begins to learn. But what exactly?
Bill Murray played the character of Phil Connors, a TV weatherman, who throughout the course of the film begins to learn the art of giving. It is never explained why he is stuck in February 2nd and he lives and dies as he chooses but he’ll keep waking up at 6 a.m. to face the same twenty-four hours once more.
Phil starts of as an arrogant, chauvinistic, selfish guy who desires nothing else but have sex with his producer, Rita, played by Andie MacDowell. At first he makes the most of his recurring predicament by trying to woo her into bed, having being able to gather the information he needs about her tastes and likes in life, but Rita won’t fall for it.
Faced with an eternity of frustration, Phil gets depressed and tries to kill himself in various ways only to wake right back up at 6 a.m. to another Groundhog day.
The turning point occurs when Phil realises that even though he can’t get out of February 2nd he can change things in such a way that he might have a chance of getting Rita to love him. All that needs to be changed is Phil, and he sets about doing so. How? By taking action in an active role in the lives of many of the townspeople. In view of the circumstances, there is really nothing that anybody in the town can do for Phil. He isn’t helping them because that’s how he’d want them to treat him, he’s helping them because helping them is the right thing to do, because, as cheesy as it sounds, being nice to all those people makes the town a nicer place for everybody.
Phil is really occupying himself with good deeds. Instead of messing with people because he can, instead of looking for opportunities to gratify his selfish needs and get away with things, Phil now begins to seek out opportunities to give away the things that the people around him need: help, consideration, advice, even money.
Eventually he begins to see his predicament as an opportunity. He shows up for the morning’s report on Groundhog Day with coffee for Rita and the cameraman; he hears some Mozart that he likes and immediately starts taking piano lessons; he starts to look after the aged bum whom he used to walk by every day. Since it’s a small town and he’s been there for so long that he knows everything that’s going to happen, he starts to prevent bad things from happening: keeps a little girls from being run over; walks into a restaurant and administers the Heimlich manoeuvre to a chocking man; catches a boy as he falls from a tree.
Once he adapts to other peoples needs it leads him farther and farther out of himself, his selfish needs, and deeper into the lives of other people. Thinking about others, really thinking about them and not just pretending, seems to be the best way of advancing yourself and getting what you want. Not only does everybody win, but you save yourself the trouble of ever having to fabricate another excuse for letting somebody down.
Phil ends up doing a lot of things for a lot of people and not only gets himself out of a horrible rut by doing so, but he manages to get all the stuff that he wanted for himself by doing things for others. Which only proves that the world does work in mysterious ways and if you are willing to pay attention to it and go against the grain of what our selfish needs dictate and take the time to make those small sacrifices for others then amazing things will happen, eventually.
Let’s go out there and start giving for a change instead of just taking.