You know how people keep saying life feels like the movie Groundhog Day right now? That comparison doesn’t resonate for me in terms of the movie itself because in the film, Bill Murray broke up monotony by learning the piano and wooing Andie MacDowell. In my life, it feels like I’m watching Groundhog Day over and over again because I already know what to expect each day for the most part: work, a walk, and a Zoom call.
I didn’t know until I started writing this post, but a definition of Groundhog Day, is “a situation in which a series of unwelcome or tedious events appear to be recurring in exactly the same way.” So from that perspective, yeah, I’m on board with life right now being Groundhog Day. If variety is the spice of life, my life is pretty bland at the moment. There’s a pinch of variety in terms of decorating my apartment for the holidays, and FaceTiming with my family for Hanukkah, but otherwise it’s pretty monotonous over here.
When I told my mom I wasn’t sure I had anything to write about this week, especially not in a positive or uplifting way, she told me a lot of people likely feel the way I do. They’re glum because they can’t celebrate the holidays with their normal traditions, and their lives are also an endless cycle of work, walks, and Zoom calls. I know folks are feeling optimistic because vaccine distribution has started so there’s light at the end of the tunnel, but honestly, I feel like a little kid because my response is, “Yeah, but how does that help me now?” It doesn’t.
And that’s true. It doesn’t. The question becomes what can I do now, in this present moment, to bring variety? In the middle of writing this post I pulled out my guitar for the first time in years. No agenda, no goal in mind like, “I want to be good enough to play in front of other people.” I just played for me, for the fun of it. I also conducted a science experiment where I mixed two drops of food coloring in oil and then poured the mixture into a glass of room temperature water. The result? Water fireworks because the food coloring separates from the oil and plummets to the bottom of the glass. My inner child loves science experiments and they definitely bring variety.
Often I look to the future to meet my needs: “I’ll feel better when XYZ happens,” and I get stuck on a certain strategy to meet those needs. For instance, “I need the pandemic to be over in order to experience variety again.” What I’m reminded through my nonviolent communication training is there are a thousand strategies to meet every need. There’s no one way or a right way. When I focus on the need itself, I’m able to brainstorm and find delightful strategies in the moment, like creating water fireworks. And sometimes the only way to meet a need in the present moment is to remember a time when the need was met in the past and relive it. The body doesn’t know the difference between the past, present, or future so reliving something can become a present moment experience.
I know this post isn’t like many of my other ones, but I share it because I want people to know they’re not alone. And secondly, it’s my wish that sharing my process can help someone else. And if not, at least I’ll have a reminder of that time in 2020 when I felt like I was losing my mind due to monotony and then played my guitar and watched food coloring metamorphosize in water.
I dream of a world where we focus on the present and what we need in the moment. A world where we remember there are a thousand ways to meet every need. A world where we understand we don’t have to put our happiness on layaway and instead we can do something to change our mood right here and right now if we choose. A world where we indulge in little joys.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.