Have you ever been so thoroughly inspired by something that it has changed you? That is how I feel about the book “Stargirl” by Jerry Spinelli. I read it to my class every year, and have probably read it 5ish times outside of teaching. Each time I read it I learn more about who I want to become. This book is so dear to my heart, please understand that it is not longer a children's book to me. I would like to take this opportunity to share just a few lessons I have learned from this cherished book:
Lesson #1: Live the life that makes you happy
“In a moment she was out the door bounding across the desert. She skipped and whirled and catrwheeled among the prickly natives.” Pg. 149
Stargirl does not let the perceptions of others taint the joy she finds in life. I am inspired by her ability to throw the opinions of others to the wind and just live. The life she lives is so pure! Of course negativity affects her, but she doesn’t let it linger. She truly lives. I want to have the ability to live like her. To throw my shoes off, dance in the rain, skip through the parking lot, just enjoy the life I live.
Stargirl has a “happy wagon.” She put pebbles into the wagon when she is happy, and takes them out when she is sad. She is a real person, she does get sad, but amidst the sadness she still lives in a way that brings her the most joy. Fundamentally I feel this is how living the Gospel of Christ effects my life. Yes, I do have moments, months, years of sadness, but if I’m living The Gospel there is an underlying amount of happy that can never be stifled.
Lesson #2: Live outside yourself
“He was in pain… I didn’t think, I just did.” ~Stargirl
All throughout this book Stargirl lives to serve other people. She is constantly looking for people she can serve. She consistently finds joy in the happiness of others. Never does she stop to consider how her service will benefit herself, or what others will think. She sincerely wants others to feel loved. This perception is the foundation of her being. She becomes a cheerleader and cheers for both teams because deep down seeing other’s joy and success should always be celebrated. What if we all had a perspective like Stargirl, more than a perspective, what if we had the courage to act? To see the little moments where we could smile a little more, send an encouraging word, drop off a cheerful gift, help a stranger, just be more aware of each other. Just as Stargirl says, we are all on the same team, so let’s have the courage to show a little support. We are all just trying to do the best we can with what we’ve got.
Lesson # 3: Take the time to see enchantment
“She faced the mountains, bathed in the sun syrup, her face as peaceful as I’ve ever seen a face… Clearly she had erased herself. She was gone. She was serenity.”Pg. 92
In the book Stargirl leads Leo into the middle of the desert to an area she calls her “enchanted place.” She then sits on the ground, clears her mind, and just breathes. I am a stressor by trade. My mind is constantly racing with my current to do list, surroundings, etc. It takes a lot of hard work for me to find peace. When I take the time to allow enchantment into my world and allow the peace that comes from utter stillness it is empowering!
Lesson # 4: Recognize the small joys of life
“ She was the Johnny Appleseed of loose change…
“Do you realize how much you must throw away in a year?”
“Did you ever see a kid’s face when he finds a penny on the sidewalk?” Pg. 117
I will never look at change on the sidewalk the same ever again. There is a sense of serenity when we can find joy in the simplicity of life. So often I feel that the big, overpowering things that are out of our control, things that clutter our lives come in with such force that the only thing we can do to combat the insanity is find the small joys that constantly surround us at every turn. In the book there is one part where Stargirl tells Leo about headlines she would make up if she were in charge, no tales of drama or turmoil, she would report about an old man nodding off reading a newspaper on a park bench, a beautiful flower, ants carrying a large crum across the sidewalk. How wonderful to create the habit of appreciating the small and simple. The Lord created this amazing planet for us, no other reason. I am often amazed at its beauty, and I try to see it as a testament of how much I am loved by My Lord. I am often equally amazed at how easily this style of thinking can be overthrown by the business of life.
I wish that I could read this book to all of you. It has truly changed my life! I am so very far from who I want to be, and in turn, so far from the person My Lord need me to be but I know that one of the ways I can get a little closer is through living the lesson I have learned from Stargirl Caraway. I am so blessed to have her (yes, I know she isn’t real) influence in my life.
“ I think that everyone in a while someone comes along who is a little more primitive than the rest of us, a little closer to our beginnings, a little more in touch with the stuff we’re made of.” Pg. 171