Thursday, December 10, 2020

Of Carwashes and Courage

"Bliss, I need a car wash but will that scare you? Last time we were here, do you remember? It kind of scared you. How do you feel about the car wash now? Do you think we could go through?"


My niece looked out the window to her left, gazing at the sidewalk but clearly contemplating something much bigger. A ray of sunlight was shining through the window and it turned her hair into ribbons of orange crystals.  

She did not love car washes.


But my car was really dirty and I had the opportunity now to get it washed. For a soccer mom like me, when a need and the time to fulfill it come together, that is pure gold. The only question was whether Bliss was going to be okay. 


"Is this the one where the soap is rainbow-colored and smells like fruit?" She needed more data. This was a good sign.


"I'm pretty sure they still do that, yes." 


I find it disturbing that the soap at my neighborhood carwash is so heavily perfumed that the smell comes straight into the car, even though your windows are obviously rolled up. And why fruit, for God's sake? That is not natural.

Bliss looked back at me with one last question. It seemed she had made up her mind but needed to negotiate one final term of the contract. She drew in her breath and asked, 


"Will you hold my hand while we're in there?"


Suddenly everything around me and everything inside of me felt innocent and pure and clear. 

"Yes, sweetheart, I will hold your hand in there."  


That was all she needed. How amazing that this tiny little being knew what her fear was, and she knew what reassurance she needed to face it. 


"Okay, let's go," she said. 

 Her fear was not in charge. She was. 

My TEDx Nashville talk airs tonight. 


My coach Jeremy and I worked on my talk for months. I invested in this talk like a part-time job. I wanted this. I believed this was part of God's plan for me. I talked about it almost incessantly for a year. People probably got sick of hearing about it. But I didn't stop. I rehearsed it 88 times. My social media feeds blew up more than once. I was quite possibly obsessed.


And on September 17, I recorded my talk in an almost-empty auditorium, thanks to COVID. 


And tonight, my talk will air. And a lot will change.



Until now, I could decide who I shared my story with. I could select the people I trusted. I gradually widened that circle, wave by tentative wave. 

After tonight, my story will chart its own course.


The wheels for tonight are in motion. The TEDx Nashville crew has a detailed run of show. Zoom links are set up. Ring lights are plugged in. Tickets have been delivered. Calendars are blocked. 


This is happening.


It's like that moment at the car wash when the track engages with your wheels and you're being pulled into the car wash. And I have a moment of anxiety when I wonder if all my windows are rolled up, and whether unbeknownst to me there is a non-factory-standard accessory on my Buick Encore. 


On days of high anxiety, I wonder if this will be the day when the car wash goes haywire and breaks through my windshield. 


Rationally, I know this is going to be okay. But the car wash is so loud and so powerful. 


The people in my life are surrounding me with gracious love and support. From all directions, expected and unexpected. I am not alone in this experience. I am so loved and so blessed. 


My hand is being held very tightly by so many. 

My fear is not in charge. I am.


Okay, let's go. 




Kevin said...

Love you dear girl. You are amazing. I'm holding your hand

Melanie Gao said...

I feel it! Thank you Kevin.

Anonymous said...

So proud of you sis!!!

Unknown said...

I’ve always adored your heart and your brilliance...I cannot wait to watch this in January. And sit with you in the new year and hold your hand.💗

Melanie Gao said...

Thanks Unk. I appreciate that.