This I Believe

Elizabeth - Allison Park, Pennsylvania
Entered on May 2, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: carpe diem

I believe in the power of the groundhog to forecast the weather. I’m just kidding. However, I do believe in taking spur of the moment trips to see said groundhog, even if he isn’t a meteorologist. As far as I can tell, life doesn’t just hand you amazing times and interesting stories. It is being spontaneous that makes life truly interesting. I haven’t always been the most adventurous of people, but experience has taught me to loosen up and take some chances. I’ve learned that things that are stupid, that don’t seem worth the effort, or that probably won’t work out as planned are usually the ones worth doing, because they make for truly memorable occasions.

This idea was illustrated to me by a journey to see an icon. On the night of February 1st, my four roommates and I were at home in State College, procrastinating as usual. We were all bored, already set into the monotonous schedule of the semester. Fortunately, my roommate Lindsay suddenly had a burst of inspiration and decided that we had to take a road trip to see Punxsutawney Phil on Groundhog Day. This seemed like a sensible plan, so at 1:30 a.m. the five of us piled into Lindsay’s tiny Jetta, and we set off to see a celebrity.

Punxsutawney, a city that celebrates the groundhog on everything, even its car washes, was teeming with college kids in town for the festivities. We parked and began trudging through the snow two miles up a so-called hill, which was more like a mountain. An hour or so later, we finally reached a clearing lit up like a football stadium. We had arrived at “Gobbler’s Knob” to find swarms of people dancing, enjoying a bonfire, and generally having a blast at 4 a.m. We walked around, talked to the “inner circle” guys in top hats, danced like fools, and, of course, bought groundhog t-shirts. It would have made sense to stay and see if Phil saw his shadow, but that was too conventional for us. One of my roommates had to be back for class at nine, so we took a few more pictures and headed back down the monstrous crag without ever glimpsing the namesake of the holiday. Not seeing Phil actually made our adventure that much more random. It’s true, going to class that morning without sleep wasn’t fun, but the trip was worth it.

It is things like these that are unplanned and a little bit crazy that I’ve learned the most from in my life. Spontaneous, stupid activities are what make me a little bit different and mix-up my boring schedule. I believe in doing things on whims, otherwise I would always know what was going to happen next. Since our last-minute road trip, anytime an opportunity arises to do something wild, like going to Punxsutawney at 1am for Groundhog Day, I take it. If I didn’t, I would never get to tell stories like that one.