Waking Up to COVID-19 is Like Watching "Groundhog Day"
The metaphor is in the day-to-day life without change.
Posted July 22, 2020
“I wake up every day, right here, right in Punxsutawney, and it's always February 2nd, and there's nothing I can do about it.”
—Bill Murray as Phil Connors in Groundhog Day
Ground Zero of COVID-19 has settled like a plague in the South, Southwest, and West after hoards gathered without masks on beaches and in bars, insisting that Coronavirus was fake news, an illusion of the far left. Meanwhile, many of us across the country are waking up daily to Groundhog Day where nothing seems to change—staggering statistics, political spins from all persuasions, fears of a second wave, and lingering anxiety of when this will all end.
“What would you do if you were stuck in one place, and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?” asks TV weatherman Connors in Groundhog Day.
While the long shadow of COVID-19 has spread worldwide, President Trump has assured us “this will end” at some point. But, frankly, so will the world someday. With Coronavirus, there is no Pennsylvania Dutch superstition at play: that if a groundhog emerges from its burrow on Feb. 2 and sees its shadow, it will retreat to its den and winter will endure for another six weeks; but if the groundhog does not see its shadow, spring will arrive early.
In the case of Coronavirus, we may have to wait until next spring, while every day may feel, to some extent, like Groundhog Day. The metaphor is in the day-to-day, life without change, as well as cynicism to the point of blindness. Every day, we seem to wake up to the same dilemma: stunning COVID-19 statistics and the blindness of many of our leaders. Groundhog Day mirrors the nation’s nightmare in so many ways.
The iconic 1993 film Groundhog Day, considered one of the greatest comedy films of all time, directed by Harold Ramis, and produced by Ramis and Trevor Albert, is a study, in many ways, of perspective.
Murray portrays Phil Connors, a cynical TV weatherman covering the annual Groundhog Day event in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, who becomes trapped in a time loop forcing him to relive February 2 repeatedly until he gets it right. He awakens every morning at the Cherry Tree Inn to Sonny & Cher’s “I Got You, Babe,” playing on the clock radio. Déjà vu all over again, as Yogi Berra used to say.
“They say we're young and we don't know
“We won't find out until we grow.
“Well I don't know if all that's true
“'Cause you got me, and baby I got you.”
There is a bit of Connors in all of us—scoffing at reality, resistant to change. “Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn't one today,” says Connors. Enter the stunning Rita Hanson, played by Andie MacDowell, and ultimately light, as it shines through darkness, ultimately transforms Connors.
Notes Connors in the film, “I am not making it up. I am asking you for help.”
We all could use some help. I am in the middle lane of politics; I have no party affiliation and need help as much as anyone else. To wit, in the last presidential election, I wrote-in my deceased brother-in-law. He was a mentor to me.
COVID-19 is not an invention of the Deep State, a conspiracy of the left, a mirage of the right, or fake news; it’s a deadly virus with confirmed and startling scientific findings, most devastating in terms of hospitalizations and deaths, and one that needs "Groundhog Day" perspective; a pause button.
Toward the end of the film, Connors turns to Rita:
Connors: “Do you know what today is?”
Rita: “No, what?”
Connors: “Today is tomorrow. It happened. You're here.”
My prayer, no matter how or to whom one prays, is that tomorrow we’re all here—collectively as a nation, waking up to the chilling realities of COVID-19 and listening carefully to scientific experts whose dead-on focus is medicine, not politics.