The clearer you are on what you want, the more coincidence you will have in your life.
On the third and last flight of the 10,000-mile journey that would bring me to Kigali, I was seated next to an African man. We were two strangers on a flight that was about one quarter full.
I’m not very chatty on long trips. I value the too-rare chance for peace and quiet and the eclectic music on my iPod. But on this flight, chatty I became.
It started when my companion turned to me and commented on the number of boarding passes I was holding. We laughed. I asked him where he was going and where he was coming from. He was on his way home to Nairobi from Norway where he had been for three months. He was Maasai, a tribe in Kenya. He was the director for a not-for-profit headquartered in Norway.
He asked where I traveled to and I told him Rwanda, for the Itafari Foundation. And he said, “What did you say?”
“I-ta-far-i,” I repeated.
He looked at me and said his name was Ita!
I often sense significance on these long international flights: in where people are headed to, coming from, or doing. This one blew me away.
We laughed and began to talk of things that change the world. Passion for living a life which will bring success, comfort, and joy to yourself and others. A deep sense of commitment to making the world a better place through your talents, education, and focus. A sense of calling which makes no sense but must not be ignored.
Many of the people I meet who work to serve others come from a strong sense of faith and calling. You see them everywhere – men and women, young and old, who want to serve others. But especially, you see it at airports and on the plane. There is a nexus of possibility in these crossroads. There are old nuns, priests, Hassidic Jews, Muslims, doctors, teachers, Peace Corp volunteers, students with t-shirts boldly proclaiming their faith and affiliation, middle-aged people from everywhere in the world, and others whom I cannot label. All of us are heading to a place that is foreign and different, yet that has somehow called to us. Different attitudes, different expectations, different focus: but all of us on some sort of personal mission.
This is Ita:
Raised in a Maasai tribe in the country of Kenya, he was the first member of his family to become highly educated. He received his undergrad and graduate degrees in India, and had stayed in India a number of years to start churches – nine of them! He is only 33 years old. And he is just beginning.
He has traveled the world, made friends with those whose lives have affected him, and he in turn has changed theirs. Not only is he a strong Christian man of faith, he is one who feels compassionate about serving others through his gifts and talents.
We talked of his concerns for those who have no faith. Of the practical issue of stopping female genitalia mutilation in cultures such as the Maasai and in greater Africa. And of the challenges he faces in being a foreigner in so many foreign lands, of balancing his strong sense of duty to his family with this ability and desire to travel the world and share what he knows to help others. We talked of love and his fiancée, Rose, who he will be marrying in December in Kenya, and we talked of his dreams of starting businesses that utilize his talents and create a difference in the world.
We are unique. Each of us brings certain talents and vision to the world, and if we do not manifest our deepest goals and dreams, the world will never see them. No one else will do it better. As Ita spoke about what was in his way of accomplishing his goals and dreams, I stated that I believed only one thing would stop him: himself.
The media surrounds us with news that is mostly negative. The incredible talents of the ordinary are eclipsed by the drama of the ignorant and their manifested outcomes. Corruption. Deviance. Greed. Murder. Lack of integrity. Hate. War. Miscommunication. Malfeasance. Brutality. Violence.
None of those things, NONE of them, entered a conversation where two strangers focused on making a difference in their own unique way met by chance on an airplane. And of course there are no Las Vegas odds of people finding each other as Ita and I did that day. It is only opportunity, to be taken or missed, that exists.
The clearer you are on what you want, the more coincidence you will have in your life. I have never before met a man named Ita. Ita had never known the word Itafari. But we are both totally convinced that a new lifelong friendship has begun. A young African man, a middle-aged white American woman. Two people began as strangers and now are friends.
Ita supports and believes in my work. I see his greatness and reflect it back to him. He is stunned at our conversation and how so much of it confirmed his heart’s desire – his innate sense of what he instinctually knew, in so many areas. Meeting him reminds me that God is absolutely in the smallest things, like the seat assignments on a largely unfilled plane that create the opportunity for two once-strangers, now friends, to find joy, companionship, and a singleness of purpose manifested in such different ways, through shared values and beliefs.
A man named Ita has begun my journey to Rwanda. On this, my fifth trip. It is a sign of significance for me. I never want to settle for mediocrity in my work. This rightness of this is manifest in such remarkable experiences. With such incredible people who are placed in my path, I will continue this work until it ceases to be extraordinary.
If you want to see the extraordinary in this world, shut off the television, put down the paper, and make a difference in your actions and attitudes, today. Step into what you believe with no shame. I promise you no one will stop you. Only you will put on the brakes.
Imagine that you look back from just two years forward. Itafari’s co-founders – Bethe, Karen and I – as well as all those who support Itafari are stunned at what we have accomplished in just two years. It has brought me to this place of not doubting ever again that I can accomplish all that is truly important to me.
I celebrate and seek that sense of purpose in others. From my family, my clients, my friends, the people we serve in Rwanda, our donors, and from a man named Ita.
My best to you all,