“Groundhog Day” as Expressed by 7 Revered Writers

Groundhog Day makes for a festive mid-winter distraction, when it’s not going horribly wrong. But it’s not exactly the stuff around which writers have penned great books. It does, however, provide the backdrop for one of my favorite films, “Groundhog Day” starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell.

Murray plays self-absorbed Phil Connors who is grudgingly sent to Punxsutawney, PA to cover the goings on of a certain groundhog (with whom he shares a name). MacDowell is his loveable and sweet-natured news producer. Grumpy and derisive of everything around him, Phil can’t wait to leave Punxsutawney. But after a blizzard grounds him, he gets trapped in a time loop, reliving the same despised day over and over and over… and over … until he learns the lesson he’s meant to absorb. Which is a little something like what the following authors have touched on in their work.

Rainer Maria Rilke. Existentialist? Bohemian? Mystic? I dunno. Perhaps all and none (because his work is in a category all his own) apply to the poet and author of Letters to a Young Poet. Born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Rilke traveled extensively, along the way picking up more than a few insights about the need to embrace the transience of the moment.

“Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson. The author of Self-Reliance and big daddy of the Transcendentalist movement, which posited the inherent goodness of people and nature: Of course he had some encouraging words about appreciating today.

“Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”

“Life is a journey, not a destination.”

Henry David Thoreau. You’re not surprised to find the Walden author on the list, too, are you? I found this to be a just about perfect articulation of what Bill Murray’s character needed to learn in “Groundhog Day.” And the rest of us too!

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.”

Maya Angelou. Actress, poet, civil rights advocate,teacher, journalist, producer, and author (best know for I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings). Angelou lived many lives and offered sage words for remembering to appreciate every moment.

“Be present in all things and thankful for all things.”

“We spend precious hours fearing the inevitable. It would be wise to use that time adoring our families, cherishing our friends and living our lives.”

Jay Asher. In Asher’s young adult novel Thirteen Reasons Why, Hannah Baker, before committing suicide, writes a list of why she did it and ensures it will circulate among those she holds responsible. The novel might just tear your metaphorical heart out, but it has a powerful message.

“You can’t go back to how things were. How you thought they were. All you really have is…now.”

Lauren Oliver. Among the works cited here, the plot of Oliver’s young adult novel Before I Fall most closely mirrors that of “Groundhog Day” in that the main character is stuck in a time loop. Samantha Kingston dies in a tragic car accident, but she has unfinished business. To complete it, she’s obliged to relive the same day seven times until she finishes what she started.

“Maybe you can afford to wait. Maybe for you there’s a tomorrow. Maybe for you there’s one thousand tomorrows, or three thousand, or ten, so much time you can bathe in it, roll around it, let it slide like coins through you fingers. So much time you can waste it.

But for some of us there’s only today. And the truth is, you never really know.”

A. Milne. His Winnie the Pooh and The House At Pooh Corner are teeming with “Groundhog Day”-worthy profundities. What’s a group of tight-knit and beloved stuffed animals to do but relish the moment?

“‘What day is it?’
‘It’s today,’ squeaked Piglet.
‘My favorite day,’ said Pooh.”

May every day be your favorite. <3

This year, Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring. Which means the groundhog in my yard will be sabotaging my attempts to keep a garden sooner than later.
This year, Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring. Which means the groundhog in my yard will be sabotaging my attempts to keep a garden sooner than later.