Today is Groundhog Day, and Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow. Or he didn’t see it. I’m actually writing this before Phil was put to work, and I don’t have same the prognostication abilities as rodents. Normally I wouldn’t give two thoughts about this “holiday,” let alone a few hundred written words, but something from those two thoughts I wasn’t giving piqued my interest.
I always thought this was a pretty goofy and unusual tradition. Using a giant rat to predict the coming of spring. But it always got attention, from locals, news sources, well, everyone, really. The only thing I ever really liked about it was when I was a kid it meant my birthday was always week later. I suppose it still means that, I just don’t care anymore. Six more weeks of winter, but only one more week of me being whatever age I was.
But mostly it just made me think of the movie Groundhog Day when Andie McDowell is in awe of all the people camping out and celebrating and participating in Groundhog Day like college kids on some made up drinking holiday. Bill Murray just looks at her and says, “Yeah, they’re hicks, Rita.” It’s just a simple celebration for simple people to enjoy.
Something different happened this year. I don’t know if it’s part of growing older, or just me being in this different mind-set lately, but I was able to see this event in a new light. It’s not about the rat, and it’s not about if he actually sees his shadow or not. This is a celebration of hope and optimism.
We’ve made it halfway through the cold, and the gloom, and the overall miserableness that is the winter. The groundhog reminds us that it’s almost over. It shows us there is a light and we are so close.
In one of my psychology classes we talked about techniques for setting and meeting goals. One of those techniques is to identify smaller goals on the way to the big picture. It aids in creating a sense of accomplishment and keeps one motivated. While pulling an animal out of its dwelling and deciding if it has seen its shadow isn’t actually a goal (or science, or anything other than annoying an animal) it is a tangible marker of making it halfway through the winter wasteland.
So shadow or not, I would like to raise a glass and cheers this little bringer of hope. Happy Groundhog Day, everyone. It’s almost spring!