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What is life trying to teach me? And have I learned it?

John Burroughs, the naturalist, gave a thoughtful take on this question:

“The lesson which life repeats and constantly enforces is ‘look under foot.’ You are always nearer the divine and the true sources of your power than you think. The lure of the distant and the difficult is deceptive. The great opportunity is where you are. Do not despise your own place and hour. Every place is under the stars, every place is the center of the world.”

It’s true. It’s often tempting to think that the “great opportunity” of life is somewhere else or in some other situation or with other people.

It’s odd how easy it is to take for granted or not quite see the “great opportunity” that may be right in front of us.

Suppose you were trapped in the situation you find yourself in right now and couldn’t change it? What would you do?

That, of course, is the premise of the movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray.

If you’ve seen the movie, you know that Phil the TV weatherman (played by Murray) is trapped in time. He keeps repeating the same day, Groundhog Day, over and over, with the same annoying people and the same limiting situations.

Phil doesn’t like his job. He doesn’t like the people around him. The girl he likes doesn’t like him. And now he’s stuck in this podunk town, repeating this same boring routine over and over and over. It’s a nightmare, and it eventually drives him to attempt suicide.

But at some point, Phil starts looking around and seeing the people and events of this ordinary day with new eyes. He starts responding in different ways.

At the beginning of the movie, Phil saw Groundhog Day as a very bad day. By the end of the movie, it was a very good day, full of joy. And it was the same day! The thing that changed…was him.

Phil had finally learned that “the great opportunity is where you are.”