Déjà vu all over again

Dear President Biden,

Happy Groundhog’s Day!

Apparently the poor groundhog that got picked to arbitrate this silliness did see its shadow, signaling 6 more weeks of winter, though there’s one report saying it was snowing lightly and the groundhog didn’t see its shadow so it’s equivocal. I found a listing of the groundhog shadow siting/not siting outcomes from 1886 to 2017 and it looks like shadow siting is by far most common (108 years) with no siting coming in a distant second (18 years) and no record bringing up the rear (10 years). It’s kind of funny to peruse the list because while somebody decided in 1886 to start tracking this Pennsylvania Dutch superstition , the outcome wasn’t actually recorded until 1887 and then there were only 3 recordings for the next 12 years. Finally in 1899, yet another year of no recording, the Groundhog Day Club was formed and shadow siting/not siting has been faithfully recorded ever since.

The other fun fact is that when I tried to find out how accurate the groundhogs’ predictions have been, all I could find is that when they don’t see their shadows (all of 18 times in over a 120 years) they were wrong 60% of the time. I think from this it’s safe to conclude that we humans are very silly creatures who are wont to give our time and attention (as I am clearly doing now) to the wispiest of belief systems, even when we know they’re absurd. Ah, to be distracted and entertained….. Ah, if only that were the extent of it…..

Well, besides being bemused by our collective infatuation with demonstrably silly things, I do have two personal connections to Groundhog’s Day to tell you about. First, the Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day was one of our family’s very favorite movies when our daughter was a child. We watched it over and over and over, rather like a meta-version of the movie itself. We knew it so well that we could recite the dialogue but we still cringed in horror at each and every loathsome thing Phil did before he turned it around and started trying out being a do-gooder. That movie also led us to watch all things Bill Murray (our next favorite Murray movie being The Man Who Knew Too Little – absolutely hilarious!).

A sweet gift this afternoon was overhearing Laura and our daughter talking about today being Groundhog Day our daughter exclaiming how the movie is one of her absolute favorites (still!).

The second connection to Groundhog’s Day is that Laura and I chose it (February 2nd) as the day to get legally married nine years ago. Laura actually thought of it and the funny symbolism of the “déjà vu all over again” of us getting married after being together for 23 years. She also thought of the ironic symbolism of us making our original commitment to one another on January 1st since it was the day after straight couples would generally try to be married by so they could take advantage of tax laws benefiting them – no such bennies for us in 1988.

I know none of this is really consequential but I do love the idea that if we keep coming around to the same stuff over and over there’s some hope that things can (no guarantee they will….) get iteratively better. In 1988 Laura and I had no thought, or even the wispiest of hopes, that our union would ever be officially recognized and accepted, so even though we can’t escape the shadows and long winters, the arc of justice is dipping down and sometimes touches down where we all are.

May we be safe whether we find ourselves in shadow or sunshine.
May we enjoy happiness when we’re in sunshine and may we hold space for it when we’re in shadow.
May we be strong and stalwart through the rough patches.
May we accept that the arc of justice isn’t going to dip down and touch us all by itself.

Sincerely,
Tracy Simpson

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