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Popularity, the Star Bellied Sneeches, and a Material Girl

The next retreat I’ll be working on is in August. Right now, we’re talking about a topic that will cover the “Orientation, Disorientation, and Reorientation” that happens somewhere mid-life for so many of us. I think there’s often a set of years, or maybe a single incident or set of moments that often leads those of us in our 20s to 40s to feel like nothing is quite what we thought it was.

It’s probably that quiet revelation that ego is not king, that material possessions do not define us, and that our possessions do not completely well, complete us.

The original Material Girl via Stylish Curves

As a child of the 80s, this notion was quite a shock to me. I don’t know if every generation is bombarded with the social pressure to conform, to buy the right things, to look just a certain way. For me, middle school was the pinnacle of this strangeness, that clothes I wore and the brands I wore defined WHO I hung out with. High school became an extension of that, but by the time I got to high school I was aware that it was a game. A strange popularity game that I didn’t really want to compete in. A strange popularity game that seemed very much like the “Star Bellied Sneeches” by Dr. Seuss.

Do you remember that book? The sneeches kept changing their minds about if bellies with stars, or without stars were the most desirable. To try and keep up with each other, they kept running in and out of the star belly machine, adding or removing the star on their belly. Pretty soon, no one knew if stars were popular or not, and it made the point that it really doesn’t matter, that those external things are just superficial.

And at some point, I think each of us comes to that realization, that the superficial things don’t matter so much. That there is more to each of us than what we wear, who we hang out with, and how we dress.

But beyond that, there’s also that realization that perhaps that longing we have for something “more” isn’t for more material possessions, more stuff, more wild friends. I think we start to realize that there’s something bigger, deeper, more meaningful that we’re trying to find. And that really is when we start to wonder if maybe we had it wrong to begin with? That while our ego tells us to be fearful, to put up our guard, that really, the blessings of this life really begin when we embrace love. When we start to recognize each other for the divinity that is in every person. That through love, and acceptance, we start to live bigger, fuller lives.