Archive for the ‘Groundhog Day’ Category

Dear Readers,

After writing more than 70 columns about films, faith and family, I’ve decided to take a break.

I would like to tell you that I am flying to New Zealand for a small part in Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit.”

But the simple truth is that I have a number of writing projects I would like to complete in the next twelve months. Discontinuing my monthly Reel Life Journeys column will free up the time I need for these new projects.

However, I did not make this decision quickly. Only after much thought and prayer did I see that this was the best road to take at this point in my writing career.

“My writing career”… I like the sound of that. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and thanks in large part to the interest and support shared by Rick Musacchio and Andy Telli of The Tennessee Register, I have a great start.

Looking back over these past six years of writing this column, I learned a number of important lessons:

~ Writing is hard work. I can remember only a few magical moments when whole paragraphs flowed through my fingertips. For the most part, I wrote my 850-word columns after purposefully sitting down at my laptop many times to write.

The editors asked that I e-mail my column to them on the Tuesday before the newspaper is published on Friday. That means during the previous week I would ponder the column’s topic, what movie to feature and other quotes or song lyrics I could use to illustrate the topic.

The columns I like the most had a rough draft done by Sunday, extra quotes added by Monday and a final edit before e-mailing the text to Andy on Tuesday.

Unfortunately, too many of my columns, either through procrastination, family duties, my daytime job or other diversions (the Chicago Cubs, pizza, Notre Dame football) did not see a rough draft until Monday, some updates on Tuesday and a final edit early Wednesday morning. I know that most newspapers have a hard print deadline and I know it’s best to get things done sooner rather than later. I just hope I didn’t cause too many late nights for the TR staff.

~ Live each day to its fullest. Unless you are Phil Connors, the weatherman reporting from Puxsatawney, Pennsylvania in Groundhog Day, you can never repeat today. As many others have tweeted or posted on Facebook, today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present.

~ Show respect to everyone. A simple school project of collecting one paper clip for every life lost during the Holocaust continues to teach valuable lessons of respect and tolerance to the students, parents and community of Whitwell, TN Middle School. We should remember that lesson and stop judging people because of their looks, their wealth (or lack thereof) or their religion and show them respect. We would all hope to receive the same.

~ There’s no crying in baseball.

~ Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering. As Master Yoda so eloquently states, fear is often the root of many evils. But when we sing John Michael Talbot’s lyrics “Be not afraid, I go before you always. Come follow me, and I will give you rest,” we know that our God is ever before us, guiding us in love.

~ Even the smallest person can change the course of the future. This theme from The Lord of the Rings is much more than supporting a three-foot, seven-inch hobbit on his quest to destroy the One Ring of Power. One individual, standing upon this rock in space we call Earth, is a minuscule part of the world’s population of 7 billion people. Yet that one individual, by his or her acts of kindness and love for other people, can start a chain reaction that will transform this world into a better place to live. You are just one person, but you have a very important role to play.

~ All you need is love.

~ The richness of life is not found in a large bank account. The first Reel Life Journeys column I wrote centered on the song “If I Were a Rich Man” sung by Tevye in The Fiddler on the Roof. In this column I imagined what I would do if I won the Powerball lottery. I realized that the things I wanted to do most (write, talk to Grandma more often, spend time with family and friends) were things I could do now without the winnings. Carpe diem!

So thank you, dear readers, for your interest and encouragement through the years. It has been a pleasure and an honor to write this monthly column. I may yet show up on these pages again in the future. “God only knows when we will see each other again,” Hodel says to her father Tevye before boarding the train to Siberia. “Then we will leave it in His hands,” he replies.

The von Trapp family said it best in The Sound of Music when they sang: “So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye.”


Christopher Fenoglio is grateful for the loving support of his wife and family, to whom these columns are dedicated.


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“Someday I hope you get the chance to live like you were dying.”
Sung by Tim McGraw, written by Craig Wiseman and Tim Nichols
No one really knows for sure when he is at the halfway point of his life. But once you hit 45, there are many “middle age” signs that start showing up.

It could be your aching knees, feeling the emotion of Tim McGraw’s hit song “Live like you were dying,” or caring for a parent with a serious illness. Each of these events, in varying degrees, reminds us of the fragility of life and the relatively short time we have on this Earth. But instead of worrying what tomorrow will bring, shouldn’t we look for opportunities each day to do some good and experience God’s love?

I started thinking about life, death, and the time remaining on the Big Scoreboard last year during a fun family event. My wife and I and our three teenagers were eating a fast food dinner after a basketball game.

It was just another ordinary day, no special occasion or big event. But as we laughed and enjoyed each other’s company, the stresses of work, school, bills and homework evaporated. Petty arguments were forgotten and the competitions between three teenagers close in age were put aside. It was a sublime, joyous time when all five of us felt the bonds of family love strengthen between us.

These glorious, ordinary days are the ones we should enjoy and remember. They give substance to our lives and challenge us to show our true colors in the midst of daily stresses and worries.

For our faith calls us to live a Christian life every day, not only on Sundays, holy days or special occasions. Each day is a new opportunity to be a Christian and spread God’s love to others.

GroundhogIn the movie Groundhog Day, Bill Murray plays Phil, an egotistical weatherman who relives the same February 2 over and over again. He is faced with the same situations, the same people, the same events day after day, month after month (the writers suggest that he spent ten years’ worth of the same day during the film).

As he struggles to find meaning in this unique situation, he feels the entire spectrum of human emotions. After the confusion wears off, he tries to take advantage of the same daily routine for his own pleasure. He spends weeks memorizing personal facts about his producer Rita [Andie McDowall] and then tries to make her fall in love with him. Despite many attempts to work the situation to his advantage, she always sees through his manipulations and slaps him away.

This throws him into a deep pit of despair and leads him to commit suicide. But no matter what he tries to do – electrocution by toaster, standing in front of a truck, falling off a tall building, or driving himself (and an unsuspecting groundhog) off a cliff to a fiery death, he still ends up in his bed the next morning, starting Groundhog’s Day all over again.

After exhausting his indulgences and narcissistic ways, he realizes there must be a better way to live. He looks outward and finds many who need his help – the young boy who falls out of the tree, the old ladies whose tire goes flat, and the local master of ceremonies choking on a piece of meat.

In fact, by finally dedicating his life to helping others (along the way showing real humility and compassion), Phil succeeds in attracting the affections of Rita and breaks the streak of endless Groundhog Days.

We are called to live Christian lives just like Phil. When we serve others with our talents and compassion, we are touching their lives as Christ would. And at the same time, we are touching Christ in others. “Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.” (Matthew 25:40)

In Phil’s case, he was forced to live one day over and over until he got it right. For all of us, we only get one chance to live out each day the best way we know how. When we live each day as if it is our last, then each day is filled with examples of God’s love for us, our family and our friends.

Those are the days I want to remember.


First published in the July 15, 2005 issue of The Tennessee Register.
© 2005 Christopher Fenoglio.

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