Thought Leadership Essays

How I Met George Floyd

July 15, 2020

Vikas Narula

I know it’s been a long time since I last wrote. Since 2010, I have been blogging every other month with consistency until about 2 years ago, when my blogging just suddenly, unceremoniously stopped.

You know I love to blog. I love it so much I wrote a blog about blogging. I promised that I would be blogging for the rest of my life and yet after my last post back in July of 2018, I haven’t uttered a peep.

So what happened? To be honest, I am not sure. I just didn’t feel like writing anymore. There was nothing moving through me to a point where I felt the need to articulate it in words and share it with the world.

I kind of felt like I had shared everything I wanted to share – about entrepreneurshipthe spirit of commerce, following your heart, and so much more.

So, I didn’t write.

But, I didn’t stop creating and sharing.

In lieu of blogging, I have been expressing myself in other ways, delving into untapped vistas within my own soul. Specifically, I started to dive deeper into singing and chanting devotional songs with the harmonium – at home by myself and in community with others.

I started building community around things that I really care about: hugs, connection, and heart-opening.

And, on the business front, I’ve been “hobbifying” new creations and innovations that have me more jazzed about Keyhubs than I have been in a long time.

So, while I have been away from all of you via this blog, I have been connecting and channeling my creativity through new and different mediums.

And, after two long years of silence, I am ready to share something.

I have always loved and admired Forrest Gump. It is one of my favorite movies of all time and I recently re-watched it with my children. The movie came out the year I graduated college and ever since, I have always wanted to be a little like Forrest Gump.

Tom Hanks remembers 'Forrest Gump' at 25 as 'an absolute crapshoot'

There are so many things to love and learn about him and his life – how he did the best with what he had, his loyalty to love and friendship, how he impacted and changed people as he walked through life, and how he just did whatever he felt like doing – uninfluenced by what others thought and felt.

Remember, when he just felt like running?

Forrest Gump Facts Better than a Box of Chocolates

Remember, a point came where he was just done running and so he stopped and went home, leaving all his followers in confusion and dismay?

In a way, my two year pause on blogging was my Forrest Gump way of saying I just don’t feel like blogging right now.

And, in this period of pause, deep self-reflection, and pursuit of other creative interests, I stumbled on the biggest Forrest Gump moment of my life:

I “randomly” asked George Floyd (and his friend) to go sailing with me. And, they did.

I like to sail. A couple of years ago, I signed up as a member of the Minneapolis Sailing Center.  It’s easy – you pay a modest annual membership, take a few lessons, get certified on one of their boats, and off you go.

Last summer, I decided that I wanted to give the gift of sailing to more people. I also wanted to meet new people, as many of you know I love to do.

So, I cooked up a great plan: I would go down to Bde Maka Ska and just randomly ask people if they wanted to go sailing with me.

One August afternoon last summer, I asked these two guys to go with me. They were a little hesitant at first, but once on the boat, they were nothing but smiles.

Sailing with George Floyd

We had a great time. They had never been sailing before. They were like kids in a candy shop. Especially the big guy right behind me. He was so happy, jovial, and gracious. He took many selfies like this one and gave me a big hug after our sail.

We exchanged phone numbers and I sent them my photos from our day on the lake. I even shared the photo on Facebook shortly after our joyful sail.

That gentle giant, beaming like the sun, flexing his muscles while he signals peace and joy is George Floyd. Next to him is his good friend and housemate, Alvin Manago.

It has been a very tough, intense, and unimaginable year for everyone.

First COVID, then a worldwide uprising for racial justice and equality – starting right in our own backyard.

Before I knew I sailed with George Floyd, I went to pay homage to his incredible memorial, which has turned into a place of prayer, protest, and celebration.

As I started to hear more about his life – being from Houston, working in security – I couldn’t help but think about the big guy I sailed with last summer, because I distinctly remember him saying those things.

But, I looked at my picture of him and all the other pictures of him floating around the web and I didn’t really see a resemblance.

Then, in mid-June, I was flipping through my journal and noticed that I had written their names down the day we went sailing.

Wow, my Forrest Gump moment. I couldn’t believe I sailed with George Floyd.

I mean, think about all the things that had to happen:

– Our “random” meeting and invitation to sail
– Snapping a selfie and sharing it on Facebook
– Writing their names down in my journal
– His horrific death, captured on camera, which made his name known around the world

Like everyone, I was sad and outraged by the mistreatment and death of George Floyd.

Discovering that I spent an afternoon sailing with him evoked all kinds of deep, unexpected feelings and emotions, which can only be adequately conveyed through tears. Lots of tears.

While this encounter was incredible, unfathomable, and beyond my wildest imagination, when I take a closer look I can see that my journey to sail with George was many years in the making.

It started almost 10 years ago when I began to broaden my network and see the magic of connecting with humans. This led to new opportunities, including teaching as an adjunct at Minneapolis College. This experience thrust me into new networks that I was completely oblivious to. This became the inspiration for a TEDx talk where I challenged myself and others to step outside of our bubble. Not long after, I shared a post about amazing humans and their path to radical bridging and reconciliation. In that post, I assert that bridging divides through genuine social connection can and will change the world.

Bubba - Forrest Gump -Cinema Studies

I still believe that to be true.

And, we need to reform our policing systems. We need to rid our political systems of all forms of corruption. Consider the problem, and the powerful solution.

And, while we purify our politics through bipartisan cooperation and collaboration, let’s not forget the many organizations – locally and nationally – that are working in the trenches to lift people up and level the playing field for all individuals – especially African Americans.

NAZ, Juxtaposition Arts, and Urban Homeworks are some of my favorites in the Twin Cities and there are many others.

And, while we work to reform our systems and lift people up, let’s not forget the important work of reforming our hearts. Of being a little bit more like Forrest Gump. Extending a hand to those that are hurting.

What if we all had a friend like Bubba or George Floyd?

I believe we would not only see that Black Lives Matter, but that black lives are miraculous.

I am so glad I got to know and sail with the miracle that was George Floyd.

Peace be upon his soul.

Vikas Narula is Creator and Co-Founder of Keyhubs – a software and services company specializing in the power and wisdom of human networks, connection, and self-awareness. He is also Founder of Neighborhood Forest – a social venture dedicated to giving free trees to kids every Earth Day.

Related Blog Posts:

Amazing Humans – Our Hope for Humanity

Stepping Outside the Bubble – The Case for Open and Diverse Networks

People – The Greatest Books Ever


  1. JoAnne Funch |
    4 Years Ago

    What a beautiful story and lesson of being open and curious about others enough to take the time to invite them into a conversation. I met you a couple of years ago at a networking event and never forgot something you said to me “Meeting new people is like being in a flowing river of amazement” this story exemplifies your willingness to be amazed by other people. Thank you for inspiring me.

  2. Monica Anderson |
    3 Years Ago

    Hi Vikas, I love your writing and it was not a coincidence that you had the chance to sail with George Floyd, nothing ever really is just by chance.

    I miss you and hope that we can sail someday too.
    Best wishes, Monica

  3. Phil Benezra |
    3 Years Ago

    Hello Vikas, I am a Social Studies teacher at Maharishi School. Dr. Beall shared your blog with us last night. Thank you so much for this moving story and for being a miraculous part of history. I would like to share this or an excerpt of this on FB. Please let me know if that would or would not be OK. Thank you.
    RIP George Floyd

  4. Jessica Barker |
    3 Years Ago

    It’s so nice to have you back and for sharing your story.

  5. John Honor Jr |
    3 Years Ago

    A wonderful post! Thank you for sharing.

    • Vikas Narula |
      3 Years Ago

      Thank you, John!

  6. Mary Kay Ziniewicz |
    3 Years Ago

    Thank you for sharing this poetic story.

    • Vikas Narula |
      3 Years Ago

      Thank you, Mary Kay!

  7. Pingback: 241: The Journey Series - Vikas Narula on Embracing Connection | BeMoved

  8. Mark Kramer |
    3 Years Ago

    Beautiful, and thank you for sharing! I wish that I had had the opportunity to have met him. He sounds like such a great person and such a terrible loss for all of us.

    • Vikas Narula |
      3 Years Ago

      Thank you, Mark. I appreciate your words.

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