Jacquie Bullard

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Los Cubos (Outtakes)

[Blaise’s] mind drifted to the feeling of the air late at night in the summer, how it retained the warm humidity of the day and combined with the darkness of night so that she felt held and cuddled, even when she walked around alone in that city past midnight.

One image always came to mind: Los Cubos. That was a local term for L’Estel Ferit (La Estrella Herida in Spanish), The Wounded Star, but hardly anyone knew that, or at least they didn’t talk about it. It was a sculpture that stood randomly on the sand at Platja Sant Miquel, the beach at the end of Passeig de Sant Joan de Borbo, at the tip of the neighborhood of Barceloneta. It reached skyward, casually like four rusted metal boxes stacked haphazardly. The sides were made of panels of glass so that it looked like Barcelona’s own leaning tower of Pisa dreamed up through the eyes of Dali or Picasso.

The image of Los Cubos didn’t resemble an injured star, as its true name proclaimed. To Blaise, that towering sculpture reached up toward the sky the way that the toes of an acrobat point defiantly away from gravity, counterbalancing the weight of the upper body, inverted, creating a posture of impossible balance. She sat up straighter as she thought of it and inwardly reprimanded herself for neglecting her yoga practice.

Comments on this outtake:

Honestly, I really like this depiction of L’Estel Ferit as it rises upward like ‘...the toes of an acrobat point defiantly away from gravity.’ The main reason I removed it from the manuscript was its placement — it took the reader out of the moment at a time when it wasn’t necessary or helpful. It initially was my attempt to introduce one of the themes in the book, which is how an ancient practice like yoga can apply to the life of a modern young woman living abroad.

Why yoga?

During my time in Barcelona, I connected to the yoga community there and was even able to teach some classes (for context, I’m a certified yoga teacher, since 1999). It was intriguing to teach something I was so familiar with, but in a foreign language: Spanish, or as they call it there in Spain, castellano. It got me thinking about how living abroad can make such ordinary things seem new. If you let yourself get caught up in the language and the place, you see things in a different light even if you think you know them well. That’s why I imagined Los Cubos as an analogy for an inverted acrobat, or yogi, stretching up to the sky. Not that long ago, that might have seemed like a strange juxtaposition, but now that yoga has become so mainstream, there are more people that might click with that.

At the same time that a broader demographic has encountered yoga, there’s still some work to be done in terms of putting forth a true reflection of yoga: it’s not just postures and breathing, after all. Some call yoga a science, others a spiritual practice or way of life, and still others see it as just a physical discipline - it’s all those things.

As a yoga teacher over the years, many people have told me, “I can’t do yoga. I’m not flexible enough.” I sometimes would reply, “Not coming to yoga because of a lack of flexibility is like not going to school because you don’t know anything.”

But what do we really know about yoga? And even if we’ve spent years on our yoga mats, how does that really translate into our lives ‘off the mat’ as they say? What can someone get out of yoga even if they think they aren’t interested in it? I began writing Heads or Tails as a reflection on why my experience in Barcelona had such an impression on me. In the process, yoga surfaced as a theme and a force that influenced my time in that Catalan capital. In Heads or Tails, we get an example of how yoga is, more than anything, a state of mind that can still apply to life today. It can serve you while you are in the most familiar setting, and also when you find yourself in uncharted waters.

Stay tuned for a post on scenes from Heads or Tails on how Blaise leans on her yoga practice while she lives as an expat in Barcelona:)