My mom chose the name of this blog as the YES Effect. I never quite understood why she chose it... a more appropriate name would have been 'Star in Cuenca' or something similar, don’t you think? However, the last few months have helped me understand my mom's choice.
Mom always says that I teach her about this YES Effect business that she is trying to learn. She explained to me the other day that when she says YES to life she stops struggling and her pain ceases; she finds peace. However, this doesn’t come easily to my mom; and, she gathers that this is one of the main lessons she needs to learn and probably why we are in Ecuador. Of course, I always focus on the now and the positive in everything- it’s my nature. Humans just complicate things.
I don't always say YES to everything immediately; I have my preferences too, you know. Yet, when I don't have a choice and I’m forced into a situation that is not my preference, I don't like it at first, but soon I embrace it. For example, I don't like driving around in the car; my preference is to stay home; but mom sometimes decides that I must go with her and makes me get in the car. I fight it for a second or so, but once I'm in the car I start enjoying the ride and the scenery, not attached to my original preference I can enjoy myself and be content. Unfortunately, this is not quite the way my mom usually works.
Mom has this idea that things should be done one way; and that’s ususally her way. She has always defined herself using the words: efficiency, productivity and effective communication. Now, these three qualities are not very prevalent in Ecuador, so my poor mom has been struggling… her very roots, needs and identity are constantly shaken. She had to learn the hard way (once more, mind you) that by saying “NO” to the ways of Ecuador she would gain nothing other than more heart aches. No matter how mom feels or what she does or doesn’t do, things are not going to get done any quicker; people are not going to call when they promised or answer voice messages or emails on a ‘timely’ manner; nor will they be more straightforward with her. Different cultures, different methods… that’s all.
Mom has had to learn the rules of Ecuador and this has taken her eight challenging months! Quite the slow learner she is!!! I’m sure she is not through learning though, but she is light years ahead of where she started.
As I tell her, it’s not that she has to like the Ecuadorian ways, she just has to accept them for what they are and learn to let go and work with them. Mom hit bottom about four weeks ago and then she saw the light. She realized her pain came from saying ‘no’ to what is, and not from what was happening or not happening. Since then I have felt her peace and I’m happy for her and, for me, and for dad, since she is no fun when she is frustrated, depressed, or angry. Now we can go back to focusing on the beauty this magnificent country has to offer us and the less painful lessons it has to teach us.
By the way, in case you are wondering about some of these rules mom has had to learn here are some:
- Ecuadorians live in the now and they give you their full attention when they are with you; this means if you are in a meeting and it goes way over, they will never interrupt it to call their next appointment. They are with you 100%... of course, the problem is when you are the next appointment.
- For Ecuadorians afternoons start at 3 PM. Unlike Americans who hardly take lunch, professional Ecuadorians go home for lunch since this is their main meal and for many an important family time. However they will work late as well. Repair people may show up at 5:30 or 6 in the afternoon.
- “I’ll call you at X time” means “If I remember, I’ll call you, and never at the said time.” So if you need an answer, you need to call them back. If you wait for the call back, chances are you’ll never get it.
- Ecuadorians will never call you if they only have bad news to give you. If you need to know, you need to call them, always!!!
- Ecuadorians are not proactive, so you need to be and never expect them to be because you’ll just be frustrated. It's not in their nature and it has to do a lot with living in the now.
- You need to think of all the details. They are not important to most Ecuadorians so, if they are important to you, you must think of them and bring them up until they are done.
- Workers will not clean up after they repair or install something. Unless they are being supervised by their employer and sometimes even when they are, they will leave you the mess to clean.
It’s really about responsibility; here in Ecuador you need to be 100% responsible, and yet accept that things are out of your control. The illusion of control people have in the US is shattered here in Ecuador. It’s like when I’m hungry before meal time and go to see mom and nudge her, my responsibility is to help her understand that I’m hungry, but whether or not she decides she can stop what she's doing and feed me; well, that’s not under my control; so many times I may have to wait until she is ready. See, life is really simple, if you are a dog.