In light of today being Groundhog Day, I'm reminded of that celebrated little marmot that emerges each year from his burrow in the spirit of predicting the transfer from winter to spring.
In a small town in Pennsylvania, Punxsutawney Phil steps out on February 2nd in search of his shadow. If successful, winter is still six weeks strong. But if there is no shadow, spring is coming early. It's all up to you, Phil! We need you to glance back to tell us what the future holds.
On a deeper level though in regards to looking back at one's shadow, the strength of one's character is built on how they respond to the shadows of their past. And the same is true today when remembering that shadowy past, the choices made in the present dictate the outcome of their future.
New York Times best selling author Marianne Williamson once said, "We do not heal the past by dwelling there. We heal the past by living in the present.”
We cannot change our past, but we can change our future. It's our choice. And a choice we need to make daily. By making positive changes today, we are positively influencing our future. And that is a good thing! It's simple. And it needs to be a daily work habit.
Looking back on my own life, I had a very distinct event that reshaped how the rest of my days would be. The product of a three-story fall, I broke my neck and back, received a spinal cord injury, and instantaneously became paralyzed when I was eighteen. If one crunches the numbers, physics tells us that the fall could have very easily killed me. But for whatever reason it didn't. I survived. And every day since has been a blessing—and a day I very well could not have had. But that is not to say the road has been easy. The magnitude of my injury nearly destroyed me mentally. I can remember saying in the early weeks of my recovery that it was not worth living if I could not walk. Those were very dark days—a mental state with almost no light. And it scared me. It was in those moments that I had to make a choice. I could either live a life of remorse and remain in continual woe or could accept my injury, focus on what I still had, and pursue the light. I chose the latter. And have continued on that path ever since. Do I ever look back on my past and imagine what life could have been like not in a chair? Sure. It's hard not to. But if I had the ability to go back and prevent my accident from occurring, would I? No, I would not. Why? Because my past brought me to where I am today. And I would not trade that for the world.
The past is exactly that—the past. And when we dwell on the past at the expense of our future we stop growing and start dying. The trick is simply to not let our past defeat us in the present and rob us of our future. We need to accept and respect our past. Learn from our mistakes. Embrace our moments of weakness and turn them into strengths. We need to live in the present because that is exactly what it is—a present!
In the 1993 movie Groundhog Day, Bill Murray plays the character named Phil Connors. For those who may have never seen this cult-classic, Phil essentially relives the same day, Groundhog Day, over and over in the town of Punxsutawney. It is only when he finishes going through a character transformation where he puts the needs of others ahead of his own does he break free of the endless cycle. How apropos that by Phil filling others up with value, the void in his own life is filled and he is able to move forward better than ever. The dark shadow of his selfish past was finally removed and a spring of abundant life was born. Such a cool message...and a crackup of a movie to boot.
Life is a journey. Enjoy it! Embrace and receive what life has to offer. Build on what you have and let go of what was lost. Add value. Lean in. Make a difference. Hold on to hope and together we will move forward.
As the late Sonny Bono once said (when the clock hits 6:00AM), "Put your little hand in mine, there ain't no hill or mountain we can't climb. Babe, I got you babe. I got you babe."
Happy Groundhog Day!