Wednesday, March 5, 2014

take a deep breath

In the fall, I wrote three big papers. Two of them linked to Groundhog Day--my Christ-Figure paper and my confirmation bias paper--but the third--my rhetoric paper--did not. It was very sad.

This quarter, I'm actually rewriting (and doubling in length) that rhetoric paper, and while I haven't figured out quite how to justify including a reference to Groundhog Day because there aren't really a bunch of movie examples, I did discover a quotation in one of my sources that fits into a discussion of Groundhog Day. It's a little backward, but it almost makes up for my inability to include it.

(A sad sidenote: out of my three papers in this winter quarter, nary a one makes mention of Groundhog Day. I have clearly not been trying hard enough.)

Anyway, the line, from Schiltz (2006):

As we have seen, on the one hand, the account provided in Plato's Phaedrus makes the further move toward one in which the sensual desires are instrumentally valuable as motivation for the best life, as the desire for pleasure leads to the desire for wisdom.

Nevermind the topic of my paper--it's relating Plato's charioteer myth to the shoulder angel and shoulder devil--this bit connects quite readily to Phil Connors' journey. In my more cynical moments, I've suggested that Phil only gets around to bettering himself because he has exhausted all other options. But, in my more... positive moments, I would contend that Phil betters himself because he has realized that is the best option. This notion from Plato by way of Schiltz would provide a third option: Phil's hedonistic tendencies leads directly to his pursuit of Rita which leads directly to his bettering himself. His hedonism is not a distraction but rather a stepping stone, a necessary element in his becoming.

I've said before that Phil lives in the moment in both his pre-loop selfish form and his post-loop selfless form. It occurred to me tonight that I'm not much of a live in the moment kind of guy. Maybe if I had a time loop, but not in, you know, reality. Went out on a couple dates last summer and I remember overthinking everything. Rather than just enjoy the time then an there with my date, I think ahead, weighing and measuring potential futures... Phil whatever's Nancy's name away and still gets to make out with her (that scene just passed on my television screen). Me--I spend much of my date in my own head. I don't even have Neil Hilborn's excuse.

(And, you would be well served if you get that reference, because that poem of his is amazing.)

I just have my own... I don't know what you call it. It's not a problem Phil Connors has for sure. Although, the date night sequence getting started right now on my TV almost seems like what I go through, except for me it's not over the course of several days. Instead, I would overthink the drink order before ordering in the first place. I mean, my usual drink if I happen to be in a bar, which isn't often, is a White Russian, but what would my date think of that? Should I be more manly and order straight whiskey like a cowboy? Should I be more classy and order--I don't know--brandy or wine or something. How about a shot of something, tequila, vodka... what does each one say about me? What is she going to order? Should I order the same, or is that too weird? It works for Phil, but I'm not sure that would work in reality. And, I realize I'm demonstrating my personal insanity here, but it's true. I overthink far too much in my everyday life. You get me in a situation where I think I'm going to be judged and I don't have time to be nervous at least but that's because I'm stuck twelve possibilities into the future, and none of them probably ending positively.

Phil gets away with that "high altitude" line but I can't come up with a way to get the date in the first place these days. And, people tell me, go for it, rejection is not the worst thing. But, I've already been rejected in my head before I even open up to the possibility of the real thing. It's a little pathetic. And, I could use a time loop to fix it.

I've got a time loop, I suppose. It's 24 hours long and it will happen again tomorrow. It's called a day. It's life. Sure, the details will be different, but so many of the opportunities will be the same.

Imagine a dramatic pause here, in which I overthink this blog entry. I'd delete it and start over, but then I'd have to come up with something else to write about...

I had a thought--ask her out, right now. Send her a message online and then update the blog, air all of my craziness online. But, you know what I did instead of that. I typed this paragraph, because, in the immortal words of Mike Birbiglia, that seemed more convenient. I related to that piece--I did an interpretive speech of his Sleepwalk with Me my last year of speech competition--I could imagine being in that position. I remember the lines:

I thought, maybe I'll call a doctor. Then, I thought maybe I'll eat dinner, because that seemed more convenient.

I get that. One little aspect of my life right now could use some work. I miss--on a rare occasion--being part of a couple. But, then I've got grad school which I'm enjoying, my speech coaching which I'm enjoying, my kids who I enjoy interacting with whenever I can; I was gone most of the day today, but when I got home I watched last night's episode of How I Met Your Mother with my son and my youngest daughter. And, we've got an extra thing we do--not to give away out family secrets--we do after each episode. See, our DVR grabs the first minute or so of the show that follows it, Two Broke Girls which is not our kind of show. But, we leave it on and we count the bad jokes/laugh track intrusions. Tonight we counted 14. And, just writing about that made me smile. I don't need something else in my life right now. I've got Groundhog Day. She never lets me down. She even shows me new things from time to time.

(And, no, I don't usually refer to Groundhog Day as a "she" but using "it" in those sentences seemed awkward.)

I get the Birbiglia thing, though. He's sleepwalking and climbing on furniture without realizing it and, yeah, that's dangerous, but when it comes down to it, it is far easier to just put off that call to the doctor and eat some dinner.

...

Time passes. The movie is nearly over now. The camera pans past the alarm clock to the window, cut to outside. I spent the whole third act with Facebook open on my iPad screen... I did not do anything of note there. Didn't send anyone a message. Didn't ask anyone out or even mention that I wanted to. [late edit: that didn't sound nearly enough like I was lying]

I need more confidence. Phil's got plenty. Hell, he's got too much. Perhaps he could spare some...

Today's reason to repeat a day forever: to get my shit together, stop being timid, stop overthinking every little thing... to be better.

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