Phil Connors is kind of a bastard. He’s selfish, arrogant, and more than a little mean. I’m talking about Bill Murray’s character in the movie, Groundhog Day. If you’re not familiar with this film, Phil Connors (Bill Murray) is a T.V. weatherman covering the Groundhog Day story in Punxsutawney. A blizzard prevents him and his crew from leaving town, and when he wakes up the next morning to discover that it’s Groundhog Day again. He’s in a time warp, trapped in Punxsutawney, and no matter what he does, he wakes up to find he must relive Groundhog Day again. And again. And again. This is a wonderful film about what happens when people become givers.
It’s not surprising that Phil Connors makes people around him miserable, and that’s because he’s miserable. At first, Phil reacts to his time warp problem as if it’s an opportunity to avoid any consequences for his behavior. He steals. He deceptively seduces women. His producer Rita (Andie MacDowell) says to him, “How can you love anybody else when you love yourself so much.” She had mistaken his arrogance and selfishness for self-love. He replies, “Love myself. I don’t even like myself.” All of a sudden, he comes face to face with the realization that he can’t escape the consequences of his actions. His life is lonely and unfulfilling because of him.
Faced with this knowledge and in deep despair, he drives a truck off a cliff. He wakes up the next morning in Punxsutawney, and it’s Groundhog Day. He jumps off a building, drops a toaster in his bath water, and steps in front of a truck. He keeps waking up in Punxsutawney, and it’s Groundhog Day.
Slowly, he begins to notice and look for places where he can help. He gives money to the homeless man he’s walked past a hundred times. He brings coffee and donuts to his crew. He helps carry the heavy equipment. He asks people what they think.
He starts off small and adds more and bigger generous acts. He catches a kid falling out of a tree. Changes a tire for a car-full of elderly women. Saves a man from choking.
Each day he continues those past acts of kindness and finds new opportunities to give. By the end of the movie, Phil Connors has managed to touch the lives and hearts of nearly everyone in the town in one day. That evening, at the Groundhog Day party, he is encouraged by many to participate in the eligible bachelor fundraising auction where the women eagerly bid up his price. His producer Rita wins the auction, and at the end of their evening together, he tells her, “I’m happy now, because I love you.”
Phil Connors has transformed his self and his life. No longer lonely, mean, consoling himself with his own superiority, he loves, gives, and lives.
Give, because life is like Groundhog Day. Each day we have the opportunity to help. Each day we can seek out opportunities to help. It’s our acts of generosity fill our life with light and love.
If you had live your day over and over, what would you do differently?