Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Next Day

Punxsutawney Phil

Last week I was talking to a 20-something Soldier who works in our Orderly Room (kinda like the Human Resources department) and when he asked how things were going, I quipped, "Just another Happy Groundhog Day."

And he responded, "Oh, today is Groundhog Day? I didn't know."
"Noooo," I drawled, "I was talking about the movie; did you ever see that Bill Murray movie - 'Groundhog Day'?"
"Uh, I think I remember it," he answered.
But, I think he was just humoring SGT Corbin - who often spouts non sequitors such as 'Do you know why the junior ranking Soldier is supposed to walk to the left of the senior ranking?' or 'Do you know how many little balls there are on your dog-tag chain and why?'

SGT Corbin sees these as teaching moments to pass on military history and tradition but sometimes thinks others might see them as SGT Corbin being a weird/know-it-all old guy.
Anyway, it got me thinking about how in the early/mid-90s "Groundhog Day" entered the popular lexicon as verbal short-hand for monotonous repetition and was often used by military personnel but now seems to have lost some of its usage when the concept is really more appropriate than ever for deployed Soldiers.
This is, by the way, is in no way an original or unique observation of mine, but just something I have been dwelling upon the last week or so.
In the movie, Bill Murray finds himself waking-up each morning only for it to still be the ‘same day’ - Groundhog Day; no matter what he does, or what happens, every day is a repeat.
For deployed Soldiers, it is a very similar experience with the days blending together - maybe being somewhat distinguishable by what was served at the Mess Hall (Thursday is Pizza Day, Friday is Steak Night, etc.) or perhaps Wednesday standing out for the Ground Maintenance Meeting.
But even those 'landmark' events become fuzzy with week-after-week repetition.  At first, it seems to make time go by faster and it seems like the deployment will be over and we will be back home lickety-split.
In the movie, Bill initially uses his infinite do-over days to figure out how to rob banks, play practical jokes and indulge his various appetites.
But, eventually, the predictability and sameness without apparent end weighs heavily on Bill and he begins to devise various ways of short-circuiting the day by dropping a toaster in his bathtub or driving off a cliff.
For deployed Soldiers, once they are in an every-evening rut of 'Call of Duty' or simply being overwrought with the time left in the deployment and being separated from family, it can be a challenge to self-motivate and stay positive.
This period of time can really be tough on everyone - Soldiers and family - so it is very important to stay focused on the mission, to keep in touch with family and loved ones, to use the time in constructive ways for personal growth instead of the stagnation of spending all free time playing video games or watching TV.

Bill eventually broke free of his self-destruction cycle through the desire to have a relationship with love-interest Andie McDowell and used his déjà vu days to learn classical piano, to speak French and some pretty nifty ice-sculpturing skills.  He also learned about the people around him and how even the smallest thoughtful and considerate actions could have a great impact on others.
So, if you are deployed, or know someone who is deployed, push yourself/your Soldier to  positively combat the every-day ennui by strengthening relationships and doing things like volunteering at the USO or Cat in the Hat, taking on-line college or military courses, writing/practicing rhymes, working-out, or getting involved in unit activities.
That way, we can be like Bill and get past Groundhog Day, stronger and better, to the next day.
@ Helen C.& amp; the Virgin Angels - I really enjoyed reading about your KISS-adventures; all the letters are spirit-lifters. Maybe next June I will be able to visit SF for some pampering and sushi.
@ Heidi& amp; Scott L. of Sidney, Iowa - Thank you for your note and the Comics; we get some via the Sunday Stars & Stripes but it is always good to get more laughs.
@ Desert Angels of Auburn Hills, MI - As per the note in your generous Care Package I "opened and shared"; the "love, hope & prayers" was and is greatly appreciated.
@ Tom Y. of Poolesville, MD - The candy and treats went to Soldiers on Gate Guard, the books went to the USO library and the socks went to a Soldier next to me who really needed clean ones - pee-you (teasing).
@ Yellow Ribbon Support Group & Pat and Mac M. of Palatine, IL - Thank you for the boxes of great treats and toiletries as well as the 'teddy bears' - the treats were immediately distributed to a number of Soldiers, the toiletries went to a distro area so they can be used as needed, and the teddy bears will definitely go to Afghan girls at Cat in the Hat.
@ Bobby S. of Hudson, Ohio - When I was in high school I was focused on girls and Frisbee, not sending Care Packages to Soldiers; thank you for the beef jerky and gum - I kept the jerky for myself and my 'neighbors' are happily chewing.Good luck to Hudson High making the playoffs.
@ Pat G. of Pride Packages - I salute your Marine Veteran son and your on-going support of deployed service members; the candy, crackers and cookies were enjoyed by Soldiers in platoon and unit.
@ Wendy V. of Mount Sterling, KY - Thank you, llama Grandma for your uplifting card and John's work on keeping military helicopters sky-ready.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the Shoutout. I got your message & I seen it before & was going to come back & comment but i got side tracked. Messaged you back on ebay