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6 More Weeks of Winter

It is early February, which means it is time to turn our eyes to people gathered round a hole in the Pennsylvania Earth…  and watch a rodent.  Yes it is Groundhog Day.  It is always fun to see if we will have 6 more weeks of Winter based on the activities of Phil.  All day, we get to say to each other things like “Oh no,  6 more weeks of winter.”

Of course we all know that Groundhog day is a lie – albeit a fun one.  Winter is dictated by the position of the Earth circling the Sun, commonly measured by our Calendar.  Winter will be over the same time it is over every year.  Still, there is no fun in that is there?  So we perpetuate the lie in a good way.  We have fun with the doldrums of Winter by giving it a Mascot and a fairy tale.  It gives us something to hope for, chat about, and have fun with.  We want to believe that our weather is dictated by a cute rodent because it is silly and fun during an otherwise gray time of the year.  This is the concept that Seth Godin writes about in his book, All Marketers Are Liars – of his best books, with one of his worst titles.

In life, it helps to be able to spot the difference between valid predictions and fairy tales.  Doing so does not render the fairy tales meaningless, and can sometimes even make life more meaningful.   Lying is good?  Not exactly.  Let me explain…

The lottery is a fairy tale.  My brother in law describes it as a tax on people who are bad at math.  I know the odds are that I will never win,  but I still it play occasionally.  It is fun to dream about what I would do if I won, and every few months that is worth a buck. I buy the lie for fun, and deep down know the truth is that I will still have a stack of bills come Monday.

Here is another example.  I like to drink Gatorade.  Deep down I know that Gatorade does not make me a better athlete.  If I want to do something like run a marathon, no amount of colored corn-syrupy salt water will make that happen.  The truth is that to accomplish something big requires hard work.  Still I buy the lie that drinking it after I run is helping me to achieve my goals.   It is a mascot for my reality. It takes the monotony of running, and makes it more interesting.  It keeps me engaged.

Moleskine notebooks provide yet another example.  Much to the dismay of my wife, I love them.  These leather covered notebooks are the same as those used by Hemingway.  They are cool.  Having a Moleskine alone does not make me a better writer.  What the Moleskine does for me is add mystique to the writing process.  I buy the lie.  Sometimes just the little extra push of having a cool notebook gives me a silly reason to write, draw, and capture my thoughts.  I become a better communicator by actually practicing my communication skills.  I know this to be a fact.  Still, the lie of the Moleskine makes it more appealing, so I buy in.

Be careful what you buy in life.  Realize that much of what we do and buy and talk about is a lie.  Use this knowledge to place things in proper perspective, and then buy in accordingly.  Buying a mega-millions ticket here and there may be silly, but the value for most is the fun of dreaming.  You may not want to drop your paycheck on a daydream, but a buck here and there just might be worth it.

Whether it is wearing your lucky jersey on game day or eating the same breakfast every Tuesday, there is value in the fun of the stories we create.  Groundhog day to me symbolizes this idea to me, and that is why I enjoy it.  That is why I buy in.  It has absolutely nothing to do with the weather, and everything to do with people having an excuse to talk about the weather in a different way, once a year, every year.  We buy the lie, because it makes life a little more fun.

Happy Groundhog Day!