Cubanismo: Circular or Linear

My dear friend and I were having breakfast a few years ago and, as I was sharing some of my personal reflections, she identified herself as a linear person. I felt honored to be in her presence because I am completely circular … which is why the inspirational moment of being in a room full of Cubans drives my blog post this week. (I promise to continue additional reflections on last week’s post in the coming weeks.)

This past week, I was fortunate enough to visit Galeria Cubana, an art gallery that exhibits work of current day artists from La Perla de las Antillas. The artists were visiting Boston and were at the gallery, and from the minute I arrived, our culture became our connection. Amongst the mingle and the camaraderie were moments of joy and laughter. The room filled with exuberance, as though we had all known each other for a lifetime. In essence, that is what it feels like when people come together in a community with like-mindedness about a specific love of life, whether it is a goal or passion. The vivacity of the unity outweighs whatever else is happening at the time.

I got a chance to speak to both artists and a handful of other Cuban-born and first generation offspring. As always, the connection was liberating for me, the daughter of immigrants who strived for the American dream which included doing the absolute best they could for their family, while still keeping a stronghold of values, beliefs, and traditions that would identify their children’s ancestry to a certain level. As was the case back in the sixties, like so many other cultures, there was a fear of being different here in America. Amongst the melting pot where I grew up alone, there were some families that embraced their cultures and many others that assimilated to the mainstream as a route to financial success.

As the third child in my family, I did not feel many of the struggles my older siblings did because by the time I was an adolescent, my parents were living the dream. I feel fortunate to acknowledge my Cubanismo in a way that feels natural, embracing that I am the product of radiant, warm, giving, life-loving, creative, brilliant, and decadent people. The fact that the history has been so life altering for those that landed here after the revolution because they felt they had no other choice is a sensitive and complicated topic for exploration as it is for other groups. The trauma experienced by many who lose their birthplace is an open ended subject with extraordinary need for processing and acceptance.

My grandmother lives a short distance from me and recently celebrated her 97th birthday. Her sister, 99-years-old,  still lives on the island. Coming from an extremely close family, it often saddens me that they have not seen each other for five decades. Last year, we were fortunate enough to have a cousin visit us and I experienced an abundance of rich history and love while spending time with her. My cousin’s  first trip ever was to meet my immediate family, simply because she felt as though she waited her entire life for us to make it back to Cuba. And so, mi prima reunited with her Tia Ana (mi Abuela) and brought us richness to a moment that I cannot express in words.

There is nothing linear about history to me. Stories passed on from an elder are my mode of operation and even though we live in a society where everything needs to be concrete, numerical, and yes, linear, I embrace the center and the circular person that I am because it fills my cup. Self-acceptance and self-love are the goal in both my practice and my need for human contact. Creating community in the like brings me back to circular communication; essentially, the circle of life, where we need to begin each day anew, each moment in clairvoyant perspective. Our yoga practice creates a community of those striving for stronger center, union with self and others, creating awareness, and making peace with what is, or taking the steps to change it. In order to receive the rich history that we each carry, we must be open to it, and to access that in your life, your practice may allow you to explore with sustaining a posture longer or trying a new one altogether in order to discover the circular part of yourself.


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Maria Teresa Abascal
    Nov 09, 2011 @ 20:35:21

    Epic and profound as you could get about your ancestry. I’m proud and honored as your sister. Well done….Tere


  2. yogamas
    Nov 09, 2011 @ 20:50:08

    Thank you Tere! xoxo forever


  3. Virginia Jacobsen
    Nov 10, 2011 @ 20:51:00

    Bea, your essay is beautiful! Thanks for sharing these lovely thoughts.


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