I Got You Babe

I Got You Babe

“I got you, babe…”

There aren’t a lot of movies I can watch over and over, but Groundhog Day is near the top of a very short list of ones that I can. Which is silly, of course, because a core component of the movie is that the same things repeat over and over and over.

I’ve been thinking about the movie quite a bit this past week.

Groundhog Day, the holiday, tends to put me in a more reflective mood than normal because February 2nd is the day that I was discharged from the Army, back in 1998. As I was signing my discharge papers I joked with the person that I’d seen my shadow and was wondering if I had to stay in the Army 6 more weeks. They must have heard that already a few times that day because they seemed more annoyed than amused by my quip.

Each year on Groundhog Day I can recall how I was stepping out into an uncertain future, one that I had not planned for but was now my reality after an injury cut my military career short.

“I got you, babe…”

In the movie Bill Murray’s character, Phil, discovers that he is stuck in the exact same day, forced to repeat it over and over. Every morning he wakes up in the same bed in the same Bed and Breakfast and hears Sonny and Cher singing “I Got You, Babe” on the morning radio show.

Every single day. Over and over and over.

“I got you, babe…”

I’ve been ruminating on this phrase for the past week or two. In the past I’ve tended to dismiss it as just a trivial item in the movie – a funny, catchy little snippet of song at the beginning of each new day that could easily be replaced by some other catchy piece of pop music.

“I got you, babe…”

Think about that phrase for a moment: “I got you”.

“Got”.

There’s a part of me that turns my nose up at that word. It feels like a sloppy word to me. Somewhere in some English class long, long ago I must have had a teacher admonish me to choose a better word if I was tempted to use “got” in a sentence.

There’s a lot of room for interpretation in “I got you”. It could just mean a simple “I’m happy I have you in my life”, of course, which I think is what Sonny and Cher are most likely expressing in the song.

It’s the phrase we use in the game of tag when we successfully run another person down and make the briefest, brushing contact before turning and running away at full speed.

It’s a dismissive, conversation-ending phrase we use when we feel we understand enough of something someone is trying to tell us and we want to move on: “yeah, yeah, yeah, I got you…”.

But flip that phrase around and it takes on a whole new meaning: this other person gets me.

“You get me, babe…”

Think about how powerful that can be. How uplifting, validating and comforting it feels to be “got”. To feel accepted. To feel understood. To feel welcomed. To feel valued. To feel fully and completely okay to be exactly who you are, where you are, however you look, behave or believe.

Maybe that is exactly the point of the whole movie: that Phil cannot find or experience joy until he finally puts aside all of the defenses, all the charades, all the posturing and allows someone to “get” him. When he finally casts asides his selfishness long enough to “get” someone else where they are.

It’s so easy to assume that our worth is based on our accomplishments or behaviors. That somehow we achieve some sort of “greatness”, that somehow we’re worthy because we’ve run a marathon, earned a lot of money or have a lofty title.

And although we may think we long for greatness, I believe what we actually hunger for is connection, a sense of belonging, a sense of acceptance.

The sense of being “got”.

We cannot achieve greatness if we sacrifice goodness.

Goodness is built on a foundation of love and kindness.

And love – deep, caring, fulfilling love – sprouts and flourishes when we take the time, the patience and the effort to welcome.

To understand.

To accept.

To embrace.

To get.

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