Taking That Leap of Faith: Chance Encounters
“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”
-Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
It was 4:45 am on an October morning in Albuquerque, NM 2018.
I don’t know what compelled me to take a picture of the clock as I was mounting the escalator, perhaps it was a premonition of the oddity of the encounter that would follow or perhaps it was the audacious nature of the wee hours which I found flabbergasting enough that I photographed the clock?
I hadn’t slept much in a week. Being away from my home and my family is always hard on my sleep. I stayed in a hotel in Albuquerque the night before and was nervous I’d oversleep with such an early flight!
The waiting area was surprisingly crowded and I slumped down in one of the few remaining chairs. I was intent on not engaging with anyone and just getting on the plane and getting home. I was aware that the seat I had slumped in was right next to an enormous pacific islander. His hulking presence made me vaguely nervous. Years ago while living in Hawaii I was beaten to a pulp by a crazy Samoan lady who hated my white skin. I tried to sleep.
Sleep was not to be had, and as I sat up I bumped my seatmate. As I made a groggy apology we started a conversation.
I was immediately struck by the gentle good nature of this companion. He worked on an oil rig and had been visiting his wife and five children for his two weeks off before returning to the rig. He was tired. He struggled with his health. He told me of his pains and sorrows. I stopped short when he pushed up his sleeve, and a faded tattoo seemed to smile at me.
Kula. I was bamboozled. What are the odds? And then again...of course he has a tattoo of the word Kula. Ever since I took the first tentative steps toward my dream, everything, and I mean everything began to line up to help me. Just a few months prior to this chance airport encounter...I had named my new venture...THE KULA CONNECTION!
I did not immediately share with my new friend that he bore the name of my company of his forearm. Instead, I asked him what Kula meant to him. Kula means something in many languages. In some Pacific Island Communities, it is a ceremonial gift made prior to trade deals. Kula is a town in Serbia.
Kula is a Sanskrit word that can be translated as “community,” “clan” or “tribe.” This word is sometimes used by the yoga community to denote the sense of inclusion and belonging that can be cultivated people who have shared values. These people, in a sense, hold space for each other. A Kula is considered sacred because it is a group of people who come together freely, with intention and a shared sense of purpose for self-improvement.
My seatmate told me that it was his family name, that many generations ago his grandfather was lost at sea. He survived may days, alone on the open ocean. When he was found his skin was very red, and that red is what Kula means in his language.
I shared my company name, and that my intention was to connect people back to their health through plant-based food, yoga, and coaching while creating a community of like-minded individuals. He smiled at me and told me of his struggle with diabetes and weight-related illness. We both felt that this shared, random meeting had great meaning and we took a picture together, despite it being a ghastly hour during which I would normally never want to see a picture of myself!
Our plane boarded and we parted ways. I returned to Boise, Idaho and my new friend to his job on an oil rig. This random encounter was for me a nod that I was, indeed, on the right path.
And thus began our leap of faith, our trust in the universe, and the path that would lead us on a great adventure in creating Kula.