In May I attended TEDxStanford. I arrived in a police car. I had parked on campus and got lost on my way to the event. I was there pretty early and there weren’t many people around, so I was relieved to find a campus police officer. I asked him if he knew where the TEDx event was. “Sure,” he said, “I can give you a ride if you want.”
“You’ll have to sit in the back, though.”
I considered this. I’ve never been in the back of a police car before. I said yes.
He opened the door like a gentleman and I climbed inside. It was all gray plastic and a bit grimy, and as the door closed I realized that there was no way to open the door from the inside. Of course. That’s how police cars work. It’s kind of the point.
I felt a little rush of adrenaline as we dove slowly down the street and then up over a curb until coming to a stop at the edge of a grassy pavilion. He got out of the car, opened my door, and thus I emerged. I did my best to move with the grace a celebrity might use to exit a limo at a red-carpet event — not that anyone seemed to take much notice. I smiled and thanked him for the ride, and joined the people gathering at the registration tables.
It set the tone for the rest of the day. The theme of the event was Illumination. My police escort gave me a fresh perspective — not just on police cars, but also this: Assistance can arrive in unexpected forms.
In that spirit I settled into my seat at the CEMEX Auditorium. I took notes in my program. The first I’m going to share is from Julie Lythcott-Haims’s talk.
In capital letters beneath her picture, I wrote:
FIND YOUR OWN VOICE + HONOR WHAT YOU HEAR
Yes. Yes and yes and yes. Is there anything else to say, but Yes?
I also wrote:
Experience the struggle as you emerge because the strength and discovery gives you wings and ability.
TRUST THAT YOU CAN DO THIS.
I love that word: emerge. It’s evocative and sensual — this sense of unfolding and coming into being. Emerge from the ocean, from your past, even from a police car. Clumsy, maybe. But the strength and discovery are yours to keep.