The Ripple

Most of our struggles in life are relationship struggles. Depression, anxiety, mental and physical illness, low self-esteem, high divorce rates, and all the many ways we explain our pain are the result of a lack authentic connection. We hide, pretend, and defend instead of being real. The Ripple Blog offers a powerful perspective on how to transform yourself and all your relationships by practicing emotional responsibility.

Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day

I have always been drawn to any movie Bill Murray starred in, mostly for his madcap approach to delivering good comedy. The Sony Pictures trailer for Groundhog Day featured zany moments of slamming alarm clocks, driving off of cliffs, robbing banks, hustling chicks and insulting the poor citizens of Punxsutawney who were innocently waiting for a poor undefended groundhog to show his face to an adoring crowd. 

 You might recall the storyline itself was about a frustrated weatherman sentenced to the small town of Punxsutawney to cover Groundhog Day every year. If the groundhog saw his shadow it would be an indication of an early spring. He begrudgingly did his piece, anxious to get away again; however, as he prepared to return to Pittsburg the following morning he woke up to the same day that he experienced the day before, beginning again with his alarm clock sporting the song ‘I Got You Babe’ by Sonny and Cher (Rhino Records 1993). This would be a day that would become repeated over and over and over again, hundreds of times. Sound familiar? Ever get the feeling of ‘Here I go again, repeating the same day over and over again?’ Let’s take a closer look at how this movie has secretly embedded a message on how to get out of the cycle of repeating the same day and finally getting on with a new tomorrow.

 Groundhog Day was advertised as a comedy, but in truth it is a powerful Zen story uncovering the secrets to a life filled with purpose and authenticity through the power of connection. This is a story about becoming ‘Real’.

 Bill Murray played the role of Phil Connors who reduced everyone he encountered to a 2-dimensional version of themselves. He viewed them either as obstacles or as people to be taken advantage of to attain his goal of becoming a revered news anchor at a major TV station. In short, his world was stark.

The initial phases of this story had Phil attempting to take advantage of the information he came up with each day to manipulate the day in front of him. This included seducing Rita, his producer, as well as robbing a bank. All backfired. As we have illustrated in ‘Real: The Power of Authentic Connection,’ the Strategic Self that we construct, which promises everything by pretending, defending or hiding, in the end delivers nothing. In fact, it only delivers more of the pain that we are trying to get away from inside the basements of our psyche. In Groundhog Day, the tragedy inside Phil only escalates, just as it metaphorically does for all of us pinning so much weight and promise on this contrived personality we believe will someday deliver on its shallow promise of happiness. Phil’s plight parallels our own. 

In the end Phil found his way through this day, finally waking up to a person lying beside him rather than to the insidious perpetual poke from Sonny and Cher. How did he do it? The critical moment came in his failed attempt to rescue a dying old man living on the streets from the cold. His heart opened. Rather than seeing a bothersome old fool on the street wanting to steal from him, he saw a man in pain and desperate for help. 

Phil could not get out of this day until he saw and made contact with the perfection in all that he encountered. Phil could not get out until he was successful in converting the experience of what he believed to be obstacles in his way into the Odyssey of finding salvation in the experience of life itself. Phil couldn’t graduate to tomorrow until he connected authentically with all that were in his day. 

He actually got to know these people. They actually got to know him. The profound lesson in this is that when we actually get to know each other we can’t really have any other experience other than caring, compassion, and interest in their inner world. 

Conversely when we don’t know each other anything goes and usually does. It is not difficult to attack someone you do not know. It is not difficult to launch judgements and blame when ‘who’ you are looking at has been reduced to ‘what’ you are looking at. We don’t have to look far in our own personal world to note how easy it is to react, blame and throw out little bombs all day long not really knowing what happens to those around us. We don’t have to look much further to see how this has become commonplace in the world—to see how easy it is to put up walls, close off borders, and bomb each other not really considering who we are hurting. It is because we no longer know each other. 

Phil brought coffee and doughnuts to his assistants in the morning, had snowball fights with children, learned to play jazz, hugged his nerdy friend from high school, wished others a good day and meant it, and fell legitimately in love. 

 I sat stunned and silent in my seat at the conclusion of this film. This wasn’t about simply becoming charitable and giving to others in order to feel better. Charity and giving are only natural side effects of something even more important. Knowing each other to the point where we realize we are the same. Knowing each other reveals the enlightened realization that what I do to you I am doing to myself, and there is no getting away from it. Phil got real. Phil healed the gap between himself and other by legitimately wanting to know the other and becoming vulnerable. 

 Vulnerability eliminates divisions of separateness. Vulnerability isn’t just about tears and sadness. Vulnerability will always feel like a risk because we are undefended, both from our fear of being seen and also from expressing the love we have for others. 

Phil couldn’t get out of his day until he fell in love with all of it. Just like you and I. 

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© Copyright 2016 - Catherine and Duane O'Kane and Clearmind International Institute.

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© Copyright 2016 - Catherine and Duane O'Kane and Clearmind International Institute.

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© Copyright 2016 - Catherine and Duane O'Kane and Clearmind International Institute.

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© Copyright 2016 - Catherine and Duane O'Kane and Clearmind International Institute.

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