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Is your day a Groundhog Day?

  • Published
  • By Col. Mike Hornitschek
  • 375th Air Mobility Wing commander
"OKcampers, rise and shine, and don't forget your booties 'cause it's cooooold out there today."

"It's coooold out there every day. What is this, Miami Beach?"

"Not hardly. And you know, you can expect hazardous travel later today with that, you know, that, uh, that blizzard thing."

"That blizzard--thing. That blizzard - thing. Oh, well, here's the report! The National Weather Service is calling for a "big blizzard thing!"

"Yessss, they are. But you know, there's another reason why today is especially exciting.

"Especially cold!"

"Especially cold, OK, but the big question on everybody's lips... "

"On their chapped lips..."

"On their chapped lips, right: Do ya think Phil is gonna come out and see his shadow?"

"Punxsutawney Phil!"

"That's right, woodchuck-chuckers - it's...


If you're like me, you'll be pulling out this movie tonight to watch--if you haven't already--because this is one show you really can see over and over! For some reason, it never gets old!

As a jaded Phil Conners journeys to Gobbler's Knob for his annual TV report, he finds himself living his day over and over, which at first makes him reckless, then unsettled and then hopeless ... until he finally figures out the secret to happiness.

I think most of us can relate to the idea of doing the same job or same actions over and over again. You moms certainly know about this: feeding, diapers, clean up, feeding, diaper, clean up, etc. Or even office workers ... maybe feeling chained to your computer all day. Haven't we all caught ourselves numbingly responding "Oh you know, same-old, same-old," when people ask us how things are going?

Sometimes we can get caught up in the drudgery of daily tasks, and I know that this can be especially true for folks in the deployed environment where their only focus is work and perhaps a few hours of time to catch a workout and some sleep. The days can be long. The job can seem very routine.

But, whether we're behind a desk or out patrolling the streets of Kandahar, we can find meaning and value in what we're doing. When we're able to do that, life becomes a series of little opportunities to make the world a better place. The question is ... how do we do that?

Once Phil gave into the fact that he wasn't going anywhere and when he realized that just living for himself was boring and routine, his life changed. Little by little he changed how he treated those around him, which eventually gave him the thing he most sought: contentment and happiness. If we find ourselves in a rut, we can change what we do simply by viewing life a bit differently. Sometimes perspective is our best resource when it comes to being resilient. And, that can take some work.

When Phil was trying to woo Rita, she complimented him on how perfect the day was and said, "You couldn't have planned a day like this." And he said, "Well, you can. It just takes an awful lot of work." Sure, some things we can't control, like the weather or other people's choices, but we can decide, like Phil did, to stop wasting time with self destructing behaviors or attitudes and instead, learn something new, or look for opportunities to help someone out.

Phil learned to play the piano and could carve a mean ice sculpture! What would you do with all that extra time? What could you do now that would improve your life at work, home or in the community? Phil had the luxury of observing people and then intervening to save lives or help those in distress. We don't have that foreknowledge, but we do have plenty of tomorrows that give us a chance to do something different and meaningful.

If you find that your life is happy and full, that's great. Seek out those who may be struggling. This is all part of our resiliency efforts--to be aware and engaged with our coworkers and subordinates. Strong and healthy families also contribute to our successes, as do our friends and parental support networks. Not everyone has that, so we can decide to make a difference for them. Look around, I'm sure there are plenty of people, near and far, who are just waiting for us to step up and assist. And, when we decide to help others, it just naturally changes our outlook and indeed the future looks brighter.

In the movie, Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, which meant another six weeks of winter. If that happens today, I think we may have some grumbling for those of us who don't like the cold, or cheers for the gardeners who know we need a colder, longer winter to keep the bug population down in the spring. But, I like how Phil saw the long winter in his last report:

"When Chekhov saw the long winter ... he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. 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 couldn't imagine anything better than a long and lustrous winter."

We've been lucky here that our winter has been mild thus far. We'll be prepared for any future changes with Mother Nature, but no matter what, we have a great team of people who I'm proud to serve with every day--rain, snow, sleet or shine. Keep smiling and doing what you do! And, if it's the same-old, same-old decide now to change it up!