The Punxsutawney Phil of Friartown

by jmccoy3 on February 11, 2022

Editor's Column

The Punxsutawney Phil of Friartown

by Nicole Patano ’22, Editor-in-Chief

In the past 135 years, Punxsutawney Phil and the groundhogs before him have predicted six more weeks of winter 104 times. Feb. 2 of this year was no exception. While we should not allow a prognosticating rodent to determine our seasons (especially when he is wrong 60 percent of the time), there is still something significant about Groundhog Day. However, it may have more to do with the film than the annual celebration. 

Groundhog Day tells the story of Phil Connors, a weatherman who becomes trapped in a time loop while reporting on the Groundhog Day festivities in Punxsutawney, PA. Connors is forced to relive Feb. 2 over and over again until he gets it “right.” Meant to be a light-hearted comedy, Groundhog Day has garnered some pretty serious interpretations: Punxsutawney as purgatory, Punxsutawney Phil as Jesus Christ, the movie as economic theory or a metaphor for psychoanalysis, and so on. 

I like to think of Groundhog Day as a metaphor for everyday life. While you may not have the opportunity to redo the worst days in your life, you are expected to learn from them and become a better person. You can live each day independently of all others, and you can even live each day as if it will be your last; however, will that help you obtain happiness or achieve your life’s purpose? What does it mean to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result? And what does it mean to live completely selfishly, thinking only of yourself, sometimes at the cost of others?

At the end of every day, ask yourself: Is today a day I would want to repeat? Then ask yourself how you could have made that day better than it was. What could I have done differently? 

Now, as I approach the end of my time here at Providence College, I wonder how I would answer these questions. Would I want to repeat my last four years at the College? Probably not. Ideally, I will wake up on May 23 in my bed at home, unbookmark Sakai and Cyberfriar, and go about my new life as a PC alumna. If I were to go to bed on May 22 and wake up on Aug. 23, 2018, there are a lot of things I would do differently. Honestly, if I were to wake up on June 21, 2018, the advising day for political science, I could find even more things to do differently. I could probably go back to when I first talked to my freshman-year roommate, when I first posted on the Class of 2022 Facebook page, when I first applied to PC, etc…

While I would not want to relive my time at PC, I think I would redo it until I got it “right” if I had the chance, especially knowing what I know now. However, we do not have the luxury of living in a fantasy time loop. When one day ends, the next begins. We may often think a do-over would be the best way to improve our lives, but maybe, just like Punxsutawney Phil, we are wrong about this, too.