Kiliii Yu is a man with an extraordinary mission. He offers a unique spiritual connection to nature by leading kayak expeditions to the Puget Sound, Vancouver Island, and Baja California. He also leads a week-long workshop where participants build a skin-on-frame kayak of their own.
Kiliii and I had the good fortune to meet one another this afternoon.
He arrived in a vehicle with multiple kayaks strapped to the top. His workmanship immediately caught the attention of strangers and passersby. As we sat down to lunch, a woman approached and asked about his kayaks. She was a waitress at the restaurant, but she was not even assigned to our table. No doubt, she spoke from her own interest or curiosity.
Kiliii also wore a brain-tanned hoodie of his own creation, with the characteristic smell of smoke. Certainly, his many talents became obvious within moments of meeting.
During our visit, I learned that Kiliii has a unique cultural heritage. His parents are Chinese and his maternal grandmother was Nanai, a small indigenous group that straddles the Russian-Chinese border. The Nanai are a Tungusic speaking people of about 12,000 individuals living near Khabarovsk, Russia. Traditionally, they herded reindeer and fished wild salmon. They were also a shamanistic culture with great respect for the bear spirit.
As he described his ancestry, I found my head swimming with the amazing synchronicity of our meeting. For many years, I have desired to see a resurgence of indigenous identity around the world. I once dreamed of his country, along with many other native places, and now we see one another face to face. I hope someday he returns to the people of his grandmother to reclaim his indigenous roots.
As an interesting side note, our meeting came about because of an email we both received just yesterday from our mutual friend Jon Young. The email simply contained Kiliii's name, a phone number, and a one-line message, "Kiliii is in Spokane today." There was no introduction or explanation whatsoever. Nothing.
When I first called Kiliii, I was addressing a total stranger. I said, "I would normally feel awkward calling someone out of the blue like this, but I trust Jon. There must be a reason he wants us to meet." Kiliii laughed and agreed.
Now that we've met, I feel the synchronicity beginning to move.
By the way, Kiliii has a couple fascinating websites: