THE ROUTINE OF SELFHOOD
Because I’ve done it before.
I know, but the groundhog doesn’t do exactly the same thing every year, does he?
Once regarding himself trapped in a necessity to live through one and the same day, February 2, Phil Connors feels under lock and key. He faces the initial days with stages of denial of one’s status. Consternation and deja vu, then aggression towards the others, a pavor, later an admiration of one’s power, frustration, and finally attempts to put an end to life. Phil’s indeed tragedy deals beyond the fact that February 2 tautologies, rather he lives through it the same way. Connors accepts life with disdain towards the annual humiliation: a need for such an ‘outstanding’ TV star to pound the pavement of pumpkin Punxsutawney town. The protagonist shifts responsibility for his life to an external environment, which Phil regards as independent of him. WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU WERE STUCK IN ONE PLACE…AND EVERY DAY WAS EXACTLY THE SAME, AND NOTHING YOU DID MATTER. The words over a glass of beer in a half-empty bowling bar happen to be appraised as the ideologic quintessence of the story. The accurate dramatic need of Phil Connors, as a character, not in evading the fate of being awakened in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania every single day, rather in a state to change one’s life and one’s attitude.
A key to Phil’s dilemma has been out in the open of his life well before the principal ‘Groundhog day’ story and uttermost journey to Punxsutawney, four years in a row. For years or even his entire life, the protagonist has been living in a time loop, within a self-made ‘Groundhog day’. In Phil’s case, the absence of events and actions at large is not the point. The point is Phil’s attitude toward the outer world and his disinclination to reshape oneself as a personality and to live beyond one’s selfish basic needs. The opening four minutes in a TV studio (taking the open credits) represent Phil Connors as a man, who stoops to the outside world. He fills the screen with one’s presence as often as two times a day and even a town with 6000 people could be a place for signing autographs. Phil Connors looks upon all these as unworthy of his personality, next to a humiliating passing phenomenon in wait for a huge success, waiting for him ahead. He seems to save himself, postponing a chance to live a fulfilling life to some mirage point in the future, which would in fact never come.
Don’t’ you have some kind of a line that you keep open for emergencies or for celebrities? I am both. I’m a celebrity and in an emergency.
Phil Connors regards himself as someone of greater ‘importance’ than indeed not in name. He seizes the moment to project this deformed (for him: the correct) reality on people around him. The protagonist openly feels bored and expresses disdain toward his colleagues in Pittsburgh. Will ill-conceived contempt he distributes stock phrases on weather and leaps to one’s feet on a given signal, living in no attitude to spending another second on a position, a dream for thousands of journalists. Phil Connors takes people, his job, social image, money, and comfort for granted: something, which does not demand any additional efforts. He proclaims himself being in demand as a broadcaster for a national network, yet is uncomfortable to work flat out at present. Phil lives in a wait for a major success, which would in fact never come without his efforts and shifting an attitude toward life. Phil appraises the ‘snap of a finger’ pattern of life, which cultivates a miraged success, which precedes the invested efforts. Connors has taught himself to live in a reality to rise to fame overnight without spending oneself, without tiny changes and improvements, and everyday investments.
All while interpreting a business trip to Punxsutawney as personal humiliation, Phil makes his way to a town for the fourth time (a cause of bruised pride) without even an attempt to change something beyond ‘being in business’ as he had done before. In wider analytic means, in the very first chapter (day 1) of his time Loop, Phil Connors lives this day through in a shell of iterative reality, condescending to Punxsutawney, a carnival, his colleagues (Larry and Rita), and people around. Once and again a number of characters draw parallels between Connors and groundhog Phil: in a metaphoric way, they are confusedly two of a kind. EVERY YEAR, THE GUY COMES WITH A BIG STICK AND RAPS ON THE DOOR. THEY PUT THE LITTLE RAT OUT, TALK TO HIM. THE RAT TALKS BACK. Taking a closer look, Phil Connors is not a great believer in leaving his ‘hole’ to present interviews year after year. Herewith, the protagonist exists in artificial reality with inflated expectations towards life. Phil would love to live his life on the Virginian’s islands with a beautiful woman in bed and the warm lights of a sunset in a status no less than a TV celebrity on a national scale and no other way. In actual terms, Phil exists through the prism of ‘either-or’ pattern: either everyone fusses over me or I would not move a finger for the sake of this unworthy world.
You know, some guys would look at this glass and they would say: “That glass is half empty’. Other guys would say, ‘That glass is half full’. I peg you as a ‘glass is half empty’ kind of guy. Am I right?
By day № 4 (in a time loop) Phil takes advantage of the knowledge that the circumstances, either a gift or a curse, absolve himself from responsibilities. What does he do? At first, Connors multiplied one’s egoism to live a day for his own sake on a hitherto-unseen scale. The character breaks the law as the jail is now only a means of a few hours prior to a new version of February 2. As if deforming the well-raised wisdom on ‘power and responsibility’, Phil exploits the given reign to take advantage of the others. He takes advantage of the situation and seduces Nancy Tailor and the unknown quantity of other women in Punxsutawney. Phil relapses to bad habits: smoking and alcohol, abuse of coffee, and sweeties. He wasted months on efforts to trick Rita to entice her to bed, yet Phil experienced no love toward her, at least on this stage. In a wider sense, Phil concentrates one’s life on his own personality, that he is in no position to love Rita or anyone else around him. At this stage, Connors craves the time loop to be disrupted and all these over, yet he would rather die than change himself. Before long, this egocentric satisfaction of basic needs takes Phil to numerous suicides. In another sense, Phil’s egoism may be regarded as a wide metaphor of modern consumer society: willing to consume and utilize increasingly, yet to give back and create on rare occasions.
The wretch, concentered all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And doubly dying, shall go
down to the vile dust from
whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonored, and unsung.
BREAKING THE ROUTINE: GIVE SOMETHING BACK
From its early inception, the tragedy of Phil Connors has been correlated to his personal view of life. It may well be that thirty years from that day Punxsutawney would be likely the same canton of provincial unchangeability and groundhog Phil would play the same annual scenario. The point of the story is not in the fact that the outer world around Bill Murray’s character remains the same. The point is Phil himself has to overcome a path of change. All while Connors asks Rita for help in the early stages of the story, it would not be until the day she would stay in his room (trying to examine the idea) that happened to be a trigger point of a move. Prior to that point in time, Phil invested a bulk of time and effort to use the gained knowledge on Rita, lying and presenting the false words of love. He was so obsessed with the one he can get of her: time, knowledge, sex, that he left behind the need to give something back; something open-heart. Once shifting his own attitude, Phil would have a chance to lose one’s heart toward Rita. He would start his new February 2 for her, to make something for Rita, to live his day for love. In a final scene, Connors asks Rita if there is something he could do for her this morning. Phil now impersonates the psychological wisdom that we set a high value on the person, we put the most of our time in.
It was the end of a very long day. Is there anything I can do for you today?
I am sure, I can think of something.
The conventional psychological omniscience states: ‘A pass to something unique is paved with unique means’. The one may find challenging to reproach Phil Connors with a lack of ‘smart performance’, actions, and get-up spirit within the initial ‘time loop’ sequences. The point is he has thus far invested it into relieving one’s egoistic needs and night close to Rita and a sincere attitude to her made up his mind to give more than he gets: the key means, which would change his life. His life routine was tacked in his pathological unwillingness to expend himself into the outer world and people around Phil. Thought of the others, shifting accent from himself: all these turned out to be a key to fit the keyway of his frustrating routine: a never-ceasing groundhog day of his lifetime.
Phil now appreciates what he has in his life, notably people around him, who extend their hands of friendship regardless of Phil’s imperious behavior. In a wider sense, Phil teaches himself to live in the present day without shifting the burden of one’s future to fate or God or karma. Looking back with hindsight, Connors had been pathologically afraid of putting efforts into his present work not to confront his fictitious image of one’s future as a TV celebrity. Once he puts his day into the routine of Punxsutawney, Phil indeed becomes a star and maybe does the groundwork for his future employers. His final new coverage fills people with admiration and enthusiasm, which have a far-reaching effect.
I don’t understand.
Uh, yeah. I guess not.
How does everyone know you? I mean, you only come here once a year, and you seem like the most popular person in town.
MAKE THE MOST OF WHERE YOU ARE. Phil Connors teaches himself a mindful and eventful life in previously hated (by him) Punxsutawney. EACH DAY COULD BE OF GREAT VALUE IF YOU PUT EFFORT IN IT. The essential point to remember is that Phil Connors lives through an uncounted number of days with being clear of the fact that tomorrow will bring the same February 2. He makes up his daily routine of saving a boy, who used to fall from a tree. Phil is always here to assist Buster not to choke to death with a beef. With clear knowledge, that a homeless old man dies that evening regardless of the actions taken, Phil makes the every ‘version’ of this man full-bellied and warm-up. The protagonist does his daily repair of the flat tire and fascinates the old ladies. Phil does his best to tune the intentions of a young couple toward marriage. He settles an insurance deal with Ned, though he could not harm himself and the same day will come. Phil put his efforts into mastering ice shapes and thus entertaining the citizens of Punxsutawney. The principal character lends a helping hand to Larry with his camera equipment and sets up a morning coffee for his colleagues. Apart from all this, Phil enthusiastically takes the lessons of piano play and elates his teacher. Every single day in Punxsutawney remains constant, yet it is Phil Connors, who changes himself.
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 could not imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter.
Phil Connors now lives every February 2 through as if his actions all make good sense and its effect will affect tomorrow, which in fact happens in Phil’s head. He reconsiders his own words from that half-empty bar and now understands that against all odds, EVERYTHING HE DOES, MATTERS. The protagonist fills his every day with good deeds toward other people and his effort indeed matters, at least for Phil. In the very beginnings of his time loop, Connors used to take advantage of the information on the others to use them. At present, Phil handles the gained knowledge on February 2 Punxsutawney to make the lives of other people better. HE MAKES THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE. In a broader sense, each day on planet Earth witnesses the fall of some boy from the tree, people who wet their legs in the icy splash, and a man who chokes to death. Phil Connors does not regard himself as ‘big fish’ anymore and puts the life of any person higher than his own. The principal character does not put the expectations prior to the taken actions anymore. Phil finds sense and derives pleasure from the very process of helping others. The story of Phil Connors reminds us that opposed to a fictional movie character, we conventionally do not have the privilege to live one day once and once again, correcting one’s mistakes. We do not have an eternity to postpone life for the future.
No matter, what happens tomorrow, or for the rest of my life, I’m happy now