Monday, December 2, 2013

i've got some errands to run

There's a great line in John Crawford's "Groundhog Day and Judaism - follow-up and answers"; guy says, "So, anyhoo... Bill Murray inspires mystery. The kind of mystery that people build academic courses around." Or blogs, I would add.

Crawford also quotes Kuczynski ("Groundhog Almighty" which I've mentioned before):

Some theologians see much less Buddhism in the story than Judaism. Dr. Niles Goldstein, rabbi of the New Shul congregation in Greenwich Village and author of "Lost Souls: Finding Hope in the Heart of Darkness" (Bell Tower, 2002), said he finds Jewish resonance in the fact that Mr. Murray's character is rewarded by being returned to earth to perform more mitzvahs — good deeds — rather than gaining a place in heaven, which is the Christian reward, or achieving nirvana, the Buddhist reward. He has not used the movie as an allegory for his congregation, he said, but he might now. "The movie tells us, as Judaism does, that the work doesn't end until the world has been perfected," Rabbi Goldstein said.
Roni Tabick elaborates on the Jewish connection in "Waking up is hard to do - Jacob, Thanksgiving, and Groundhog Day". He quotes Phil's line, "Well, what if there is not tomorrow? There wasn't one today." Then, he explains:

Upon waking, the first thing a Jew should say is:

“I am thankful to You, living and eternal King, for having returned my soul to me in mercy, for great is your faithfulness.”

Each moment of waking up is a moment of profound gratitude that we have survived the night and have another day full of promise and opportunity ahead of us. Every day we remember that ‘God was in this place’, and our reaction is giving thanks.

Jewish or not, I like the idea of that, that every day we wake up to "another day full of promise and opportunity." The repetition that Ralph laments in the bowling alley only has to be the soul-draining monotony if we let it. Even working a boring, repetitive office job, we don't have to let life be the same thing every day... except for that bit of it that Tabick is getting at, that promise and opportunity. I like the idea that life is what we make of it... even if it doesn't always seem like we have much control over it.

I don't attribute it to God, of course. But, that doesn't change the basic idea. Each day may seem like the one before, but there is always opportunity for something new and unique. Or, as Tabick puts it:

Sometimes we feel like Phil, stuck in an endless series of meaningless days, going through the same routines, the same drudgery, without end in sight.

But in truth we are like Jacob, waking up to days with endless possibilities, to days where we can recognise the divine in our world, finding joy and hope in places we didn’t know were possible.

I prefer my busyness of late to the drudgery of office work. Not that I didn't make the most of my office work. I listened to a lot of talk radio, made weird decorations on my cubicle wall out of removed staples, fired rubber bands into air vents... that last one got my removed from a temp position once, while, on the other hand, the magazine at which I had an intern gig in high school not only let me write about shooting rubber bands at a coworker in my farewell column but included a photo of me with a rubber band to my head.

(I would include that photo but if I even still have a copy of the issue, which I think I do, it's in a box that is at my other apartment. I've got to go by there again in a couple days. Maybe I'll remember to find that magazine so I can scan the photo.)

My walkman made my office days far more interesting... these days it would be my iPod, some podcasts or something, but it's the same idea.

Anyway, the fall quarter--my first in grad school--is nearly over. I've got a paper due tomorrow night (the one that doesn't involve Groundhog Day, two presentations on Wednesday involving two other papers (both involving Groundhog Day), and a take home final and an in-class final next week. Additionally, the speech team has a big tournament this weekend down in Long Beach and I'll be judging Sunday (maybe I'll have some more impromptu quotations to share here). And, as if life as a grad student and a parent weren't busy enough already, I've been toying with the idea of trying to turn one of my longer history papers--my undergrad degree was in history--into a comm paper--my masters will be in communication studies. Work, work, work.

Today's reason to repeat a day forever: to catch up on all the podcasts I like.

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