Marc Cenedella @cenedella
|Bill Murray woke up to Sonny & Cher’s cringey-hippy “I Got You, Babe” song morning after morning in the movie Groundhog Day. |
This romantic comedy from the 90s has aged well, with recognition of its deeper meaning growing by the year. Bill Murray’s callow newsman can’t free himself from a cycle of boredom and despair until he learns to care about someone other than himself.
Like Murray’s character, this pandemic feels like we’re stuck in Groundhog Day. Same bed, same schedule, same desk, same Zoom calls, same view out the window. No new concerts, sports, travel, restaurants, or girls’ nights out to break up the routine. Sun-up to sundown, it’s rinse and repeat, do it all over again. It’s really a drag.
And it’s not just the simple things like family and friends we’re missing. It’s also the excitement. We’re a society in which the surprise trip to Rome has become more desirable than the surprise Rolex (and more fun to share on Instagram). But the ‘Gram is pretty quiet with vacation photos now (unless you’re a celebrity or a politician).
So with Groundhog Day tomorrow, how can we mark the least serious holiday on our calendar? How can we add variety to our lives without doing something foolish like investing in Gamestop? How can we find more meaning this February without quoting Chekhov? Here are a few suggestions:
Run a different route. With the gym shut, whether you walk, bike, run or ski for exercise in February, liven it up by taking a different route. If you normally head South, go North. If you usually ride to the beach, ride to the mountains. If you normally go clockwise, go counter-clockwise. A simple change in route won’t feel like a vacation in paradise but it can break up the monotony.
Take a short course. Personal improvement often conflicts with all of the other obligations in our lives. With social duties diminished by the pandemic, use this time to finally learn that skill you’ve long desired. Take a Google Sheets or Excel course. Learn to draw. Study the whales. Take a course in photography or video editing. Whatever the skill you’ve been pushing off too long, make February 2021 the month you acquire it.
Learn a new game with the family. Monopoly is back in stock, along with all the other board games that sold out early in the pandemic. Bring some novelty to the same-old-same-old by reintroducing a classic to family nights. My eight-year-old turned out to have an obsession with (and talent for) charades that has been a consistently funny diversion this winter.
Try a new Zoom activity with friends. Speaking of games, why not re-start the weekly poker game, this time online and on Zoom? It’s not quite the same as sharing whisky and cigars with the guys, but after enough losing hands and top-shelf scotch, you might not notice the difference. If cards aren’t your pastime, try another friend-friendly activity. Book club. Wine tasting. Among Us. There are plenty of ways to crack up with the gang during lockdown. You just gotta try.
Watch Groundhog Day. Or you could simply do something new by doing something old and rewatch the movie. You don’t need to be this guy who watched Groundhog Day every single day for an entire year, but the movie does get deeper, and more enjoyable, with each viewing. I plan on taking it in again with the family. And that’s because the story of Phil Connors is an appropriate inspiration this Groundhog Day, with its never-ending coronavirus. Bill Murray transforms himself into someone Andie MacDowell could love by using Groundhog Day to teach himself to become a better man, friend, and person. Perhaps you can use the day to be inspired to do the same. “When Chekhov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. But standing here among the people of Punxsutawney and basking in the warmth of their hearths and hearts, I couldn’t imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter. From Punxsutawney, it’s Phil Connors. So long.” I’m rooting for you,