Thursday, February 7, 2013

How would you prepare for Groundhog Day?

The other day was Groundhog Day, which got me thinking about the movie of the same name, which is one of my favorites. The film never tells us how long Phil is stuck in his time loop, but the director thought maybe 10 years and the screenplay author thought maybe 30-40 years or even as much as thousands of years. They intentionally avoided presenting the dark side of being caught in a (potentially) infinite loop, though that would probably make for a very interesting horror or thriller movie.

Groundhog Day has even been called "the most spiritual film of our time," praised by some Catholics as a representation of purgatory and by Buddhists for its telling of karma and rebirth.

Had Phil Connors known he was doomed to repeat the same day over and over again, I wonder what he would have done to prepare. So as a pointless thought experiment, here are my musings on what I would do if I knew it was coming, assuming one day to get ready. (By the way, I'd love to hear what others would do in such a situation.)

First off, things I would not do: basically anything that would leave me regretting "yesterday" for the next ten years. No getting drunk the night before, no staying up late to see if anything interesting happens at midnight, no run-ins with the law that would doom me to ten years in a holding cell, no petty fights with Andrea the night before. You get the idea.

So what would I do?
  • If my Groundhog Day falls on a work day, I'd take that day off. I'm not spending the next ten years getting a call from my boss asking if I'm okay or if I'm coming in.
  • Get supplies. I wouldn't want to run to the grocery store every day for milk if I didn't have to, so let's stock up on all the necessities. And because I'm sure cereal will get boring quickly, having enough ingredients to make a host of dishes is also important. Salt, flour, sugar, milk, eggs, and so on.
  • I'd need a reasonable amount of cash on hand. Maybe a few hundred dollars. Sure, credit cards will still work just fine, but there's no lack of use for cash. Stop by the bank for a handful of various denominations.
  • Get the house in order. Go through, clean the place up, dust, vacuum, wash and put away dishes. Make sure there's a full roll of paper towels handy, a clean hand towel in the kitchen and bathroom, a new roll of TP, and enough soap, shampoo, and so on. Along these same lines, the car's gas tank should be filled to the top and cleaned out. Who wants to spend the next ten years driving around in a car that has crumbs all over and needs to be filled up after 20 minutes of driving? And as of right now, my motorcycle is on the fritz, so maybe I'd rent a nice new bike for a day.
  • Get myself in order. Shave, shower, get to bed at a reasonable time. Despite knowing I'm about to be stuck repeating the same day and all it entails -- weather, traffic, possibly crabby kids, and so on -- I'd like to think a bit of relaxation the night before would reduce cortisol and generally make for a better tomorrow.
It all seems pretty tame, doesn't it? But in my mind, all these little annoyances would really add up over time.

A more interesting question is: what am I going to do for the next ten or forty years? In Groundhog Day, as I recall, Phil learned about French literature, how to play the piano, and he learned everything about everyone in Punxsutawney. Seeing as how I tend to be a fiend for trying and learning new things, there are plenty of things I'd love to spend nearly limitless time doing, including but not limited to:

  • Playing guitar
  • Speaking a foreign language. On my list are one or more Scandinavian languages and Japanese.
  • Improving my parkour.
  • Meditating more regularly.
Somehow, this comic seems particularly relevant.

How would you prepare for your own personal Groundhog Day?

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