Journey Back Into the Vault
This is the story of those psychological forces that help define us. Who are you and where did you come from? Learning more about your past brings a sense of security and inner peace. Mario Cartaya went back to Cuba to reclaim his forgotten Cuban past and wrote a book about it called Journey Back Into the Vault, In Search of My Faded Cuban Childhood Footprints.
Welcome to this edition of Newsgram
Recently my daughter and her husband took a trip overseas to the UK. In her travels through Scotland (Edinburgh to be specific) she visited one of the castles — because you have to go right? There was a room there that sold Ancestral Name products, licensed heraldic certificates that show your families coat of arms.
A quick backstory.
I once submitted a cheek sample to trace my DNA and the results showed that my ancestors came from that region. So when she found the coat of arms with a full description of our family name it was really cool. It felt like a puzzle piece from the past clicking together and I found it very exciting. I can see why people become obsessed with genealogy. It’s a booming industry and it’s a lot of fun. It kind of feels like time travel in a way but — this is going to seem pretty deep but there’s more to it than meets the eye. There’s an inner peace that comes from knowing where you came from.
Mario Cartaya – How do we go from all the hate and the anger and the fear that we are exposed to daily into achieving an inner peace.
That’s Mario Cartaya and he has a really nice way of putting things. Inner peace begins with an understanding of who you are and where you come from.
Mario Cartaya – Come to terms with who you really are and then try to find that inner-peace within us that we all need so much.
He knows something about this. In an effort to reclaim his forgotten Cuban childhood and his original identity he did some digging into his own past. The results are in his new book Journey Back Into the Vault, In Search of My Faded Cuban Childhood. When he was nine years old he was forced to flee his home country with his parents and older brother in a pretty dramatic way.
Mario Cartaya – The head of the Cuban Nationalization program of American properties putting a gun to my dad’s head demanding his books. My dad did comply eventually and that forced us to leave the island when Guevara told him your future safety in this country is no longer guaranteed.
When you’re forced to leave your country in this way you have to leave everything behind, your aunts, uncles, friends and acquaintances.
Mario Cartaya – We just never got to say goodbye. The 1960’s if you remember was a time of the Cuban missile crisis, it was of the bay of Pigs invasion, it was time when many, many things happened and there was no communication between us and Cuba so they did and we only found out through Western Union telegraphs that would tell us your grandfather died, your uncle died.
I can’t imagine the culture shock of coming to America from Cuba in the early 1960’s. I guess one of the cool things would be the fact that he was very young and didn’t have to be concerned with the draft or politics. You get to just try and fit in as an American kid. play some baseball, make new friends, eat a hot dog and learn why we call it soccer….
Mario Cartaya – It was wonderful. Becoming an American was easy, however that vault that I built to protect me from all these painful and relevant memories would come to play a few years later.
Yep, at some point in the growing up process we are all forced to breach that vault where we’ve stored all those painful memories and see if enough time has gone by to have another look. For some of us it happens naturally and for others you have to crack open your own unconscious ‘vault’ and retrieve the buried memories to better examine them in with the wisdom that comes from growing older.
Mario chose to head back to Cuba.
Mario Cartaya – I was hoping that the stimulus of going to the buildings, the places where I lived, would remind me however what that stimulus did was it took me to a place inside me where all those memories lived. I had never lost those memories that I thought I’d forgotten. I had never forgotten it. I just stopped myself from remembering. I protected myself from remembering in the subconscious vault that we all build and I realized that as the memories returned the demos of long ago belonged long ago and the more I opened myself to going inside that vault and discovering who I am. It’s not who I was, it’s who I am because all those memories that lurk inside ourselves are really a part of you and they’ve made you.
That’s right, you can’t blame your father for doing what was best for his family. Do you blame the Castro regime for the forced exile or do you look for positive memories? The things you can be grateful for? They are all there. Sometimes you just need to be willing to look. Here’s a great example…
Mario Cartaya – My mother unfortunately passed away and I was going through her items and there’s a box with a letter from her saying this is for you and among the things that I found in there was this pocket watch that my grandfather used to own. I just found it and the moment that I saw that watch I remember it because I was in a school play in kindergarten where I played an elderly watchmaker. My parents were dressing me up as an old man for that school play and my grandfather said to me, “Here, you can’t be an old man without a pocket watch.” and so he gave me this pocket watch and here after all these years it is in my head and all i could feel was love, not fear just love. There are no demons anymore. just love. It’s beautiful.
And that love is something that makes this story come alive. The book is called Journey Back Into the Vault, In Search of My Faded Cuban Childhood Footprints by Mario Cartaya. Download a copy from Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com and see if it inspires you to open your own emotional vault. Who knows, you might find it to be therapeutic. And that will do it for this edition of Newsgram from Webtalkradio.com.
Listen to the Books on Air podcast with Suzanne Harris for a more in-depth interview with Marion Cartaya.