Don’t depend on a second chance

Years ago, people sometimes scoffed at weather forecasters because they were so often wrong. Now, we have much better meteorological tools, so the forecasts are usually accurate.
But even today forecasts can be wrong.
Yet there’s a little rodent in Pennsylvania that has forecast the weather without the aid of meteorological tools and maintained an 80 percent accuracy rate for the past 118 years.
His name is Phil—Punxsutawney Phil to be more precise. His telephone number is 1-800-752-PHIL.
Phil lives in Punxsutawney, Penn., a little town of 7,500 residents—about 80 miles northeast of Pittsburgh—made famous by the presence of Phil. He is the groundhog that tells us on Feb. 2 whether we will have six more weeks of wintry weather, or if we can expect an early spring.
Because of Phil, Punxsutawney often is called the “Weather Capital of the World.”
The name Punxsutawney comes from the Delaware Indians who inhabited that part of Pennsylvania. The Delawares considered groundhogs honourable ancestors. They were named Wojak, which became woodchuck (another name for the groundhog).
In the 1700s, German immigrants settled in Punxsutawney and brought a tradition known as Candlemas Day—a celebration at the mid-point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.
If the weather was sunny on Candlemas Day, it meant six more weeks of winter. The two traditions eventually merged to become what we now call Groundhog Day.
Pennsylvania’s official celebration of Groundhog Day began on Feb. 2, 1886 with a proclamation in The Punxsutawney Spirit, “Today is groundhog day and up to the time of going to press the beast has not seen its shadow.”
Last week, I once again watched the movie “Groundhog Day.” Bill Murray stars as Phil, a TV weatherman who works for a local station in Pennsylvania. Phil thinks he is so good that some major network will spot him soon.
As a result, he is arrogant, unkind, and self-centered.
On Feb. 2, 1992, Phil with his producer, Rita, and cameraman, Larry, were sent to cover the annual Groundhog Day celebration in Punxsutawney.
With his usual grumpiness, Phil couldn’t wait to leave the tiny town. But unfortunately, all the roads were closed because of a mid-winter snowstorm.
When Phil woke up the next morning, he had a strange sense of déjà vu. He seemed to be living the same day over. The next morning it happened again, and then again.
No matter what he did, he seemed to be stuck permanently in Feb. 2, 1992.
As he was forced to relive the same day over and over, Phil began thinking of other people and how difficult their lives were. He began to respect them and wanted to help.
He tried to save the life of a homeless man, he caught a boy falling from a tree, he was even nice to an irritating former high school classmate. And he developed skills and talents he had never before explored.
Finally one day, Phil woke up and it was Feb. 3. He was a changed man and ecstatic to have a future.
Phil was lucky. But when we’re grumpy, selfish, arrogant, and self-centered, we don’t get a second chance. So this Groundhog Day remember—your days are for real. Live each one to the fullest.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at thisside60@aol.com or visit www.visit-snider.com

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