Author: Byrd Baylor

Plot Summary: This is the story of a girl who lives in the desert in the southwest US. People sometimes ask her if she is lonely living out in the desert, and the girl responds, “How could I be lonely? I’m the one in charge of celebrations.” When people don’t believe her, the girl explains, “Last year I gave myself one hundred and eight celebrations…I keep a notebook and I write the date and then I write about the celebration…You can tell what’s worth a celebration because your heart will POUND and you’ll feel like you’re standing on top of a mountain and you’ll catch your breath like you were breathing some new kind of air.” The girl goes on to describe some of her celebrations, sharing her love for desert life as she tells of treasured experiences like dancing in the wind on Dust Devil Day or sleeping outside on a hot summer night during The Time of the Falling Stars.

Posted In: Aesthetics, Social and Political Philosophy

Discussion Questions:

What is the difference between loneliness and being alone?

Is it ever possible to be totally alone?

Do we have control over whether or not we feel lonely? Is loneliness a choice?

How do we connect to the natural landscape, our surroundings, and changes in seasons? What does this connection look like?

Is something beautiful even if we do not notice it? Do we have to notice something in order for it to be beautiful?

Why do we choose to remember certain things and not others?

Is it our choice as to what we remember?

Is it possible to remember something exactly as it was?

When describing the celebration called The Time of Falling Stars, the girl in the story recounts,“The strange thing was, I met a man who told me he had seen it too while he was lying by a campfire five hundred miles away. He said he did not sleep again that night. Suddenly it seemed that we two spoke a language no one else could understand.”
Does language always have to be based on tangible words? Can language be a feeling or emotion, or some other medium?

How do shared experiences, even when not experienced physically with one another, have the power to break down barriers and transcend differences? Other examples?

Why do different people celebrate different things, or the same things?

How do we form community and decide who is included?

What makes something a celebration?

Who gets to decide what to celebrate and when to celebrate? Who is in charge?

Why do celebrations exist, and why are they important?

What makes something worthy of a celebration?

What celebrations do you have in your life? When? With whom?

What is similar or different between the girl’s celebrations and your own?

Have you ever put yourself in charge of a celebration?

Can you think of an unexpected experience you have had that you would want to make into a celebration? How would you celebrate it?

Contributed by Maia Bernstein