Could Groundhog Day be a reminder that the best things in life are free?
- Credit: citizenside.com
It’s 23 years since the film Groundhog Day was released. For anyone unfamiliar with the plot, it centres around grumpy TV weatherman Phil (Bill Murray) who is sent to cover the annual emergence of the groundhog from its burrow (an event that’s meant to indicate the timing of spring).
But Phil finds himself trapped in a time warp, doomed to relive the same day again and again until he’s re-examined his priorities and become a better person.
Like many people, I first saw the film in 1993 and loved it. Most of us, I suspect, viewed it as a piece of entertainment that we didn’t really think about too deeply once the final credits started to roll. That’s how Paul Hannam viewed it as well in the 1990s. But when the businessman, who lost everything in the 2008 crash, happened to watch it again years later he found profound meaning in Phil’s fate. For Paul, Groundhog Day became transformational. And he thinks it could for the rest of us too.
Broke and divorced after his multi-million pound business imploded, Paul saw in Groundhog Day a metaphor for the struggle we all face to find meaning and fulfilment. His new book, The Wisdom of Ground-hog Day, tells how he changed his outlook to experience a peace he hadn’t known before.
“There is a life-changing secret at the heart of the film,” he writes at the start of the book. “You can make every day amazing if you chose to. Phil learns how to transform the exact same day from the worst day of his life into the best. So can you. You don’t need to be stuck in time like Phil. Nor do you need to move to a tropical island, win the lottery, become a celebrity or make dramatic changes to your life. You can create your perfect day at home, in the office or wherever you are now.”
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These days, Paul finds beauty in small things, like walking in the rain and feeling the steam on his face when he opens the dishwasher door. He’s realised ambition for self-gain won’t bring fulfilment and prioritises family relationships.
I thought about Paul and his book at the weekend as I walked through woodlands, breathing in the rich, heady smell of fallen leaves and listening to the watery sound of a robin’s winter song and realised he was right: the potential for an amazing day is within our grasp if we just allow ourselves to notice it.
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