If, like me, you are a fan of redemption movies—and of Bill Murray—then today you tuned into AMC and watched Groundhog Day…again…and again…and again….
My favorite part of this time-warp movie comes near the end, when Phil (also the groundhog’s name) Connors finally gets it. He starts living in the ever-present moment, the only way we can experience earthbound time. Even before he learns how to escape from the time loop he’s caught in, he starts to accept his fate and begins learning how to live a perfect day that only infinite re-dos make possible.
But what is a “perfect” day, anyway? The message of the film is that this Scrooge-like guy becomes his best self through learning compassion for others—all with a comic and romantic twist (not unlike Bill’s other redemption movie from 1988, Scrooged). And his reward for living a perfect February 2nd is? Ta-da: February 3rd.
However, on the other side of the screen, we don’t get infinite re-dos. We need to learn as we go through linear time, not when we’re stuck in an endless loop designed to help us evolve. So how do we do it?
My personal February 2nd, so to speak, was in 2014. At this time last three years ago, I was in the middle of my vaginal radiation treatments (brachytherapy) following a total hysterectomy for uterine cancer on December 13, 2013. Still in the “glow” of having survived a brush with death, I had begun to learn the lesson that all moments of life are precious, if not eternal.
Or are they? This is a topic for another day, but perhaps all moments of time exist somewhere, in some treasure vault that we can revisit…and revisit… and revisit…if we learn the combination or find the key. In other words, perhaps all time—past, present, and future—are one, existing harmoniously on some continuum we just don’t know how to access. For a fascinating metaphor that helps explain this concept, see the 1933 film Berkeley Square (move the time marker to 23:55).
But what if we can’t unlock all the secrets of the universe? (And who knows—maybe it’s only one secret.) These thoughts took me back to a special key mentioned in the lyrics of the 1967 song by the Youngbloods, “Get Together,” which I always thought held the deepest human secret:
You hold the key to love and fear
All in your trembling hand
Just one key unlocks them both
It’s there at your command
In an awesome and happy coincidence, a quick search for the lyrics took me to the February 3, 2015, post on the Huffington Post blog, where the song was featured that day: “Daily Meditation: Get Together.” Such coincidences seem to point to a cosmic connection, one that I don’t yet understand. Yet these occurrences whisper to me that perhaps we do hold a key that unlocks the secrets to at least our private universe.
In the afterglow of that “Whew! Narrow escape!” feeling post-op and post-radiation three years ago, I am still figuring out how to incorporate the lessons of my February 2nd into the February 3rd I share with everyone—my reward for having survived. Learning how to do this will require me to be awake, aware, and appreciative in all the days that follow until I run out of time as we know it.
Tomorrow, on February 3rd, I think it will be enough for me to realize that aftermaths and interims are just as important as great events. Or maybe they are the great events. Life is still happening in an amazing way even when we can’t quite feel the miracle of it after the emergency or major event has melted into the rest of our experience.
Life transitions often feel shallow, muddy, confusing, unfocused, unimportant. But without the respite from urgency that we experience during exciting or traumatic times, we wouldn’t have the chance to dive deeper into our own being. These times spent in semi-mist may actually be mystical. Change is creative. So transition isn’t really a dark place to be feared or avoided, but a space offering a chance to learn and become your own next great thing. As earth transits around the sun, we can pause to realize that transition is, after all, how we experience the time of our lives.
I will celebrate February 3rd, knowing that the bare limbs will soon bear leaf buds, apparently in another six weeks according to Punxsutawney Phil’s 2017 prediction.
And I hope you won’t get stuck indefinitely in your own February 2nd and that you will have a quietly wonderful February 3rd, too. As the earth turns, I am thankful that life gives us a chance at renewal so we learn to grow into our best selves.