Repetition and variation: Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day

Can you believe that the movie Groundhog Day is now 23 years old? I remember going to see it at the cinema in 1993 with my friend Karen – it was the end of my first year at University and Karen’s year abroad in the UK (from the US). It took a while to get one’s head around the story – I remember my initial reaction being “what was that all about?” – I was hooked on the desire for things to always be properly explained – abstraction, for a while, seemed unacceptable.

In subsequent viewings and years, I realised that asking the question “how?” was actually irrelevant. The real question when it comes to Groundhog Day is “why?” and the answer is what makes the story so utterly compelling – standing up to repeated viewings and never ceasing to make me feel happier and more hopeful about life each time.

Why am I talking about Groundhog Day now? Because I have just had the absolute pleasure of going to the Old Vic in London to see the new musical based on the film. The music and lyrics have been penned by Tim Minchin who’s recent success in the West End with Matilda made this a pretty hot ticket. It’s also on a very short run of just ten weeks and had it’s world premiere on July 15th this year so we were really lucky to be able to get tickets the day before through Lastminute.com and they weren’t even that expensive by West End standards.

I haven’t been to see something which inspired so much joy for a long time – when an audience gives a pretty unanimous standing ovation at the end of a show you know you have been privy to something special.

Tim Minchin himself describes Groundhog Day as “a great idea. It’s like Beckett and Stoppard and Kurt Vonnegut, and everything I love – conceptual explorations that are written with humour that explore what it’s like to be human”.

The most powerful message that comes from this story is essentially ‘CarpĂ© Diem’, seize the day – and this really resonated with me once again after my recent musings on the topic of age and what constitutes ‘mid-life’. As I said last week – sometimes 15 years can go by in the blink of an eye, and putting things off to another day is, in many cases, a mistake.

It seems that my mantra right now is “Life’s too short” and Groundhog Day with it’s reminders of endless repetition and how mental, psychological, spiritual and emotional adjustments (alongside positive action) can alter your life for the better, is as good (and entertaining) a prompt as it ever was.

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