Recently, I have been cycling through a personal “everything is meaningless” slump. During an upswing day, I had an epiphany in Sunday morning Bible class. We were studying the book of Ecclesiastes. Not exactly what some might consider to be good, uplifting subject matter. 🙂 However, as we discussed what it means in chapter 3 that “there is a time for everything,” it hit me. I need to swap the lenses through which I am currently viewing life for the lenses of the fictional character of Phil Connors.
In the 1993 film Groundhog Day Bill Murray plays the part of weatherman Phil. In a strange twist of cinema magic, Phil ends up getting caught in an endless cycle of repeating the same day over and over and over again. Cue certain days in my own life.
The monotony begins to get to Phil, and he attempts to control and coerce the day into his desired outcome. His multiple attempts never fully result in success, and eventually the futility of it all gets to him, causing him to become more and more creative in his attempts to permanently end his agony.
It is only after he realizes his inability to alter his painful reality that his attitude and viewpoint shifts. In contrast to putting thought and effort into his desire for personal fulfillment, Phil begins to notice those around him. He starts to see the opportunities available in the day. Eventually, he moves away from focusing on himself and how to achieve happiness through selfish motives.
Instead, he begins to notice the ways in which he can assist others; helping older ladies with their vehicle, taking notice of and caring for a homeless man, etc. Once he changes his focus from himself to others he begins to pursue creative ways to add beauty and joy to the day. He learns another language, to play the piano, and in the process he lets go of his frustration and unhappiness. In their place he finds friendship and contentment. Only then is the spell broken and is Phil able to move on to the next day with all the hopes and uncertainties of the unknown.
A message in Ecclesiastes is very similar: rather than striving solely for our own selfish contentment we ought to take notice of those around us and do good where we can. And, we ought to enjoy our lives along the way.
If you have never had an experience that leaves you viewing each and every day as monotonous…repetitive…boringly the same…like ticking off the boxes of a calendar,…without purpose or meaning, then you have likely not lived long enough, or God Bless You! 🙂 Either way, I encourage you to read the book of Ecclesiastes if you have not.
For those of us who have or do struggle to find purpose in the monotonous or seeming futility of our days here on this earth, may we follow the example of Phil Connors. I resolve now to stop striving just for my own contentment, to stop being so self-centered, and to open my eyes to how I can befriend or serve those around me. I want to begin to notice the beauty in each day, and to create it myself if it does not exist.
In chapter three of Ecclesiastes, the author outlines that there is a time for everything on earth and in this life. In verse 12 he concludes, “I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.” Here’s to looking for ways to be happy and to do good in this life!