Via Basel: Dreamlike Reality


Cody, Wyoming, 2006

Have you ever read a gripping mystery novel and got really immersed in it? Did you feel that you are in the story, observing the characters and witnessing the events as they unfold as if you were so to speak “a fly on the wall”? Maybe you are surprised by the ongoing plot and your mind is racing to predict the author’s next move and get to the end.

Recently I have had a similar feeling as I sit home alone reflecting after reading the latest updates on the saga of this pandemic, along with other concurrent events. There is a dreamlike feeling to the whole episode intensified by the isolation and physical distancing most people are practicing. It is a slow-moving plot with its own pace and rhythm, irrespective of the reader (or us spectators) getting tired, bored, or agitated, and ready to move on to the next chapter and maybe to the end of the story.

Actually, I tend to believe that we are still early in the plot, not even in the middle, let alone the final chapter. Just like the skillful and at times annoying author who surprises the reader with every twist and turn, the present pandemic’s author, whatever name you want to call it, a virus, Mother Nature, or any other entity or power, has made a fool of anybody trying to predict its course even in the short term, let alone its effect years down the line.

Allagash Wilderness, Maine, 2018

In this postmodern era we have lost our sense of awe and mystery. Our ancestors’ lives were full of both, along with risk and uncertainty. We insist on predictability and entitlement to a variety of comfortable conditions. As I have stated in previous posts, as a species we have become arrogant and out of touch with nature and its elements. It is her turn now to put us back in our place, teaching both humility and respect.

White Mountain National Forest, New Hampshire, 2016

Finally, talking about respect, I was taken by a recent opinion piece in the New York Times by Thomas L. Friedman. He had a suggestion to one of the presidential candidates: a campaign bumper sticker saying, “Respect science, respect nature, respect each other. —– 2020.” Need I mention the one he addressed it to?

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, and social engagement. All three photographs come from Basel’s trips to our beautiful country.

Via Basel: A Perspective in the Age of Coronavirus

Thomas L. Friedman, Opinion piece, New York Times, June 30, 2020