I got you babe. I got you babe. Wake up campers, it’s Groundhog Day!
Look, I know it’s just a movie, but I assure you that contained within that movie are the same learning opportunities that can be acquired by reading John Shotter’s Wittgenstein in Practice and then practicing it in living, or paying 65k for the number one (average over the past 10 years) organizational development master’s program (MPOD) in the world, or cleaning up vomit from a bathroom floor, or reading (attempting at least – can somebody translate the translation please) Heidegger’s Being and Time, or walking face first into a below zero snow storm ‘coming from’ the space of love and joy, or being deployed to a combat zone, or participating in The Forum (as it used to be called), or adopting and raising somebody else’s child.
Each of these experiences presents learning opportunities for what can be described as “transformational moments”. I would know, because I’ve had each of these experiences, a couple of them today even. Now, participating in all of them gives a certain kind of “multi-faceted” view or perspective that participating in only one or two of them will not provide, but this doesn’t diminish the opportunity set for the learning opportunities available in each of those experiences individually. The above experiences are also not the exclusive set of experiences for providing the learning opportunities. I’ve had some others and I know there are others who’ve had others.
This entry will not be a “10 lessons I learned from Groundhog Day” presentation. You’re, as always, going to have to work a little to hear the real value of cleaning vomit off of the bathroom floor or watching Groundhog Day. The one thing that I will point out very clearly is that each of the stated experiences provides a disruption to the conversational and temporal space in which one is experiencing life. The taken for granted, always already ways of being in which we normally dwell. This entry is also not intended to diminish those normally occurring day to day life events.
Having the opportunity to live the same day in the same confined space of Punxatawney gives Phil Connors the ability to peer into the moments, in intricate detail, that make up ones day to day life. Even still it takes him a near eternity to learn anything useful about himself at the same time he’s learning minute details about the others in the story.
Phil realizes, shortly after he finally orchestrates the perfect day with Rita the futility of his frantic quest for the solutions or answers, the getting it right so that it will turn out. This futility is what ultimately and finally takes him to the edge of the “self” that he knows himself to be, drives him to the depth of complete despair where he wallows for some time. Bill Murray of course, uses the timing both comedically and dramatically to give us a look, a glimpse, at the Cartesian paradigm that Shotter references. As a moment in time, turning to Mrs. Lancaster and answering the Jeopardy question “What is the Rhone?” is the turning point, the moment of triumph that is possible for each of us in our lives and our relationships. This despair, no matter how thorough it is, even has its end. Freedom to be is the natural outcome.
Phil emerges with his true being, who he’s always been, that he’s been covering up with that desire to look a certain way or do certain things to manipulate the outcomes ripped away. There is no longer an option to pretend any more, he sees himself newly and shifts to what Shotter describes as a “relational paradigm” where “This new dialogical or relational paradigm puts the primary emphasis on our knowing of other people”. In the Forum it was that moment when the “big it” is revealed. In the combat zone it was that peace with knowing that one’s time will come exactly when their time comes. And in cleaning up vomit or any of the other experiences it is that this is this. Coming to the thus-ness of the experience…without resistance and being an opening or space for the thus-ness.
This is Truth/Love/Aletheia. Unconcealed. Within that space there’s a freedom to play the piano, save another’s life, fall in love. Not as a manipulation but because these are the things we do when we are freed from the constraints we showed up in. Powerfully relating with one another.