A Difficult Job
Gary sighed as he snuggled deeper into the soft leaves, trying to coax himself back into slumber. He didn’t want to wake up today, even though he knew what day it was. February 2nd – Groundhog Day – the day on which he was supposed to perform his most important job of the year; but this year, he was determined that he wasn’t going to do it. As a matter of fact, there was nothing that anyone could say or do that could persuade him otherwise. His mind was made up.
Just as he was in the middle of a dream about running through the forest, he found himself being shaken vigorously by his wife, Mimsie. “Gary, Gary! It’s time to get up. You’ve overslept. It’s way past dawn.”
“Urgh . . .,” he grumbled. “Let me sleep, Mimsie.”
“But, Gary, don’t you realize what day it is? It’s February 2nd – Groundhog Day!” she exclaimed, as she began to clear away the leaves around him.
“I don’t care what day it is! I wanna go back to sleep,” Gary rolled over, burying his body deeper into the leaves covering the bottom of their winter burrow.
“Why, Gary P. Groundhog! How can you say that?” she exclaimed, with shock in her voice. “Today’s the most important day of the year! And you have a job to do! You must get up and do it. Everyone’s waiting to know if you’ll see your shadow or not.”
“I don’t care. I’m not going and that’s final.”
There was silence as Mimsie watched her husband trying to get more comfortable in the bed of leaves. She couldn’t understand his reluctance. Usually, he was up before dawn on this special day, anxious to perform the task that was expected of him. He’d always told her that he didn’t want to let down the people of the world. He knew that there were even celebrations held on this day, and they were all centered around him emerging from their winter burrow, determining whether or not there would be six more weeks of winter. Why the sudden change?
“Gary,” she placed her paw on his head, gently scratching behind his ears, “what’s wrong? Why don’t you want to go out today? Normally you can hardly wait for this day to come and now it seems as though you can hardly wait for it to be over. Please tell me.”
Gary rolled over onto his back and looked up at his wife. She was staring at him with concern in her big brown eyes and he knew she was worried about him. Maybe it would be good to talk it over with her.
“Mimsie, every year like clockwork I come out of hibernation on this day, leave our cozy winter burrow and trudge out into the freezing cold and snow to determine whether or not I can see my shadow. You have to admit that it’s not an easy job. First of all, it’s darn hard to wake up from a deep sleep, especially when you consider the fact that I always wind up coming back into the burrow just to go back to sleep again. Secondly, going out into the dead of winter to freeze my tail off while all the other groundhogs are snug as a bug in a rug in their warm winter burrows makes it doubly hard. And finally, I always, always see my shadow. So, what’s the point? That in itself is depressing. I know I’m going to see my shadow and let’s face it – so does the rest of the world. It’s disheartening to know ahead of time that what you’re doing is for naught. Winter is always going to stretch out for six more weeks, so we might as well face it and buck up. Just leave me alone, Mimsie. Let me go back to sleep.”
Gary turned over onto his side, away from Mimsie so he couldn’t see her face. He didn’t want to see the disappointment in her beautiful eyes. It was hard enough that he was disappointed in himself, but he couldn’t bear to have Mimsie disappointed in him, too. Mimsie laid down next to her husband and cuddled his back, putting her paws around his body. She knew he was hurting, and carefully chose her words before she began to speak.
“Gary, I know your job isn’t easy, but consider some of the other animals in nature. When a mother bird first pushes her baby out of the nest, I’m sure she’s worried about whether her young one will fly or not. The fledgling bird is untested and chances are he could fall to the ground and break a wing, but she does it anyway because she loves him and it’s the best thing for him. It’s her job, and you must admit that it’s a stressful one, at that. And what about the salmon who swim upstream to spawn? Did you know that they die within a few weeks of spawning? Talk about depressing. Imagine how you would feel if you knew that after you did your job that you were going to die? Yet they do it anyway because it’s their job. Or how would you like to be a male praying mantis? After he does his job, the female kills him. Now that would be depressing.”
Gary sat up and stared at Mimsie. “And your point, Mimsie?”
Mimsie sighed. “The point is that we all have to do things that we don’t like to do in order to get the job done. Don’t you realize that anything worth doing isn’t going to be easy? Everyone’s counting on you, Gary. Do you really want to let them down? More importantly, do you want to let yourself down?”
Gary stood up, stretched, and walked toward the burrow entrance.
“Where are you going?” Mimsie asked.
“I don’t want to disappoint the world, you, or myself. I love you, Mimsie.”
Mimsie smiled. “I love you, too.”