Via Basel: A Milestone and a Celebration
The Tree of Life by Frantisek Strouhal
For over a year after Chris passed away in July of 2010, I read his voluminous personal journals (all 70 of them) and along with his sister, Mandy, chose excerpts from them to publish in EIL under the tag “escape into Chris” starting on February 24, 2011. Kathleen, our editor, also read his journals, continuing the process. His journals were insightful, giving us all a window deep into his mind and soul.
My own first entry on this site was on July 16, 2011 on the first memorial anniversary. In the beginning as I was processing my grief it was meant for a few occasions and remembrances. Soon, however, I felt a pull to continue Chris’s passion for writing and maintain his legacy by actively participating in EIL as a contributor, knowing that I may fail to live up to his literary standards. Slowly, regularly, and consistently, inspired by Chris, I have written column after column on a variety of subjects since then.
The Milestone: this one today is my 100th on EIL. I am both proud and humbled by this accomplishment. It has been a product of love, commitment, and memory. I have grown, learned, and matured because of it. The practice of writing has been a wonderful expressive outlet of my disciplined personality. It has transformed and transported me to new realms and uncharted territories.
Also, in a few months, another milestone: fifteen years since Chris published Escape Into Life as an arts and literary online social cafe or magazine.
The Celebration: I invite you, my readers, to celebrate with me. Without your support and constructive comments, I could not have reached this milestone. Each and every one of you has contributed to this outcome as you accompanied me on my artistic and literary journey. You have helped reveal a part of me that I didn’t know existed or maybe suppressed for many decades. I am most grateful to you all and pray that I will be worthy of your continued faith in me as a writer and a friend.
I am especially indebted to my daughter Mandy and her husband, Thomas, for maintaining, updating, and taking care of the logistics and technical aspects of EIL. Kathleen, the editor of EIL, is the dynamo behind it and has been at my side in every one of my columns, correcting, editing, and choosing the appropriate images from the large EIL collection. Her input was invaluable and essential. My family’s encouragement, especially Sue and Tiana, provided the energy I needed to continue, as does the support of Mary, ma chérie. Now with my two granddaughters, Sophie and Ava, around, I have even more incentive to continue the journey preserving a legacy their uncle Chris left us, a priceless one.
Basel Al-Aswad, father of EIL founder Christopher Al-Aswad, is a yogi trapped in an Orthopedic Surgeon’s body. His loves in life include reading, writing, hiking, enjoying nature, meditation, and spending time with his large Iraqi family, and now, semi-retired, he is exploring new avenues in medicine, education, public speaking, teaching, and social engagement.
Thank you Basil, faithful friend and companion on the journey. You have indeed grown as a writer through the 100 times you have shared your thoughts, memories and insights with us. I’m glad I met Christopher and knew him even for a little while. He was and remains unforgettable, and the loss you surely still feel is shared by many others. Thank you for continuing EIL. It is a gift that always holds something of depth to consider, something to remember, something that lingers to help guide us on the journey.
May the way be open for us.
Hakīm, you are blessed with a wonderful talent to marry the levity of your writing style with the gravity of the subject. And we are blessed to be in your orbit. Thankfully, Wolfie
You have always been an amazing inspiration.
Thanks to all who responded on EIL, e-mail or personally for accmpanying me on this journey of love and expressive fulfillment.