Chris Al-Aswad, the young man who founded Escape Into Life.
We spoke in Chris's house across from a cornfield, on a road that intersects significantly (and literally) with the road to my childhood home out in corn country here in central Illinois. I realized I had passed the house many times without knowing it when taking a certain route to drop my daughter off at school.
I saw, in real life, up close, the swan and family paintings and drawings of Rosalind Al-Aswad, Chris's mother, that I'd seen only online before. I saw Chris's office, his library, his Gogol...Dead Souls.
I saw the sweet, quiet corner at the top of the stairs set apart for Buddhist meditation.
I am glad and grateful for this. Thank you, Basel.
And this morning, looking once more at the family's tribute to Chris--this article and the magazine itself--I looked again at Chris's handwritten excerpt from Wordsworth's "Ode: Intimations of Immortality...," a poem significant in my own youth in awakening my awe, for poetry and for everything.
I had again that little shock of recognition, having known but forgotten that Chris and I were moved by the same thing. He mentions intuition in one of his last journal entries, and his own sense of recognition that a life can lead to one inevitable discovery: "The best comparison is to a scholar or scientist who comes to discover that their life-work revolves around a single theme." I'll be pondering this all day, and thereafter.
Doing Time: Anna Deavere Smith
3 hours ago