Although Idriss is from Kenya, his roots are Somali. Through the course of research for this episode, I learned that Somali people occupy all of Somalia, Somaliland, the northern part of
Djibouti, north-western Kenya, and the Ogaden region of Ethiopia. Somalis practice Islam which has been an integral part of society for 14 centuries. It is a major influence in their daily lives as you will hear from Idriss' story.
I love how I never know where my conversations will go with each of my guests. Although I have questions prepared ahead of time, I love staying open to the flow of conversation that happens organically. That was definitely the case during my time with Idriss. In today's episode, Idriss explains in detail the religious education children in his community received. He speaks with such appreciation and adoration of this training that I gained a new admiration for something I previously knew nothing about. We also tackle the importance of education and being kind to strangers. I love seeing the world through Idriss' eyes.
We could have talked for hours. Actually, we did, but we only recorded a small sample of our time together. It was such a delight to get to know this wise young man and to listen to his perspectives on everything from politics to soccer and slavery to MLK jr. My most valuable lesson came when Idriss said he was most thankful for his mother. I was stunned, it was not the answer I was expecting. It was apparent that the absence of his mother in his life from the age of 8 onward left a gaping void. Yet the paradox is that it also enabled the family to have greater upward mobility. I can't imagine how that sacrifice felt for his mother. Yet, Iat that tender age, Idriss already had eyes to see that out of something bad, something good can arise. He chose thankfulness for his mother's immense sacrifice. He didn't blame her because he knew it was for the greater good.
He is passionate, teachable, wise, and eager to help and learn. It became apparent to me early on that Idriss truly lives as Rumi, the 13th century theologian declares so poetically, "Live life as if everything is rigged in your favor." From his contagious smile, out-going personality, alacrity to help where needed, ability to express himself and be a voice for the voiceless, and his immense gratitude for life, I am a better person for having met Idriss and learned from how he lives his life. May we all choose to live as though life was rigged in our favor.
Idriss' quote: Patience is more bitter than absinthe oil, but when it pays it is sweeter than honey.