“Your present circumstances do not determine where you go. They merely determine where you start.” Nido Qubein
“You must take personal responsibility. You can’t change circumstances, the season, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.” John Rohn
This week in America we celebrated Groundhog’s Day. Every February 2nd is supposedly the day that a groundhog comes out of hibernation long enough to see whether spring is coming. Legend has it that if he sees his shadow he returns to his burrow to slumber for 6 more weeks until spring arrives. If he doesn’t, spring is about to begin and hibernation is over. Here in North Carolina, Sir Walter Wally, our official groundhog prognosticator, says spring is on its way!
To weave my way back to the quotes I started with, this week I watched an old movie, Groundhog Day, with my granddaughters. Silly movie but interesting premise. Bill Murray, the main protagonist, a weatherman, is stuck on February 2nd, reliving it over and over again. Each morning he awakes to the same radio greeting, the same repetitive job of reporting on the groundhog, while everyone says exactly the same things they have said the day before which, like today, is still Groundhog Day.
First Murray is befuddled, then angry, then hedonistic, devil-may-care, eat all the doughnuts you want, no rules apply (he can’t even die) because the next morning he awakes to exactly the same day. “Poor me. My life stinks. I can’t change anything.” He snoops on people, gaining knowledge to use them or seduce them. He snarls his way through the repeated broadcasts. Eventually the pointlessness of it makes him suicidal as a way of escape….and he can’t even escape that way.
Ultimately, however, he learns a profound lesson: Life is lived in this moment. He begins to turn outward instead of focusing on self-gratification while trying to pretend to be someone he’s not. He starts to use what he has learned to help others. He feeds and saves a homeless man, prevents another from choking, assists two elderly women, and saves a marriage, then uses the rest of the time to improve himself. He learns to play the piano and speak French, one day at a time. He learns to accomplish what he can and to change himself into the man he wishes to be today, because for him the future doesn’t exist.
Of course, once he learns that lesson, he wins the girl he loves and moves on to the future. That lesson really is a lesson for all of us.
If you think about it, there is no “future.” It really doesn’t exist since it’s always off in the ether of “tomorrow.” What we have is today…and what we make of it. What we do today is what builds the future. If we try to wait, to create the future in the future, we will never have it. Tomorrow is only a possibility not a guarantee, and the truth is only the present is real. The hard reality is that it is only in the present that we can change anything.
I know it’s a simple lesson. Sometimes the most important things are simple, yet strangely, not always easily learned. It’s so easy to believe we’ll have time later to change ourselves, to finally do what we only ever dreamed we could. Murray proves that even in boring, repetitive circumstances, trapped in a job that has become redundant, there can be a way to move forward. You’ll need to start by learning you can only change yourself, not anyone else. You also may need to try more than once to get there…but if you try today, everyday, you’ll make it.
Come on little groundhog. No more time hibernating, even if it’s still cold out there. Life is always a time for new beginnings whether it is spring or not. You can’t change the world or the season, but you can change your future today. You’ve got this.