The first time - and the strongest time - I had the knowing that There Had to be a Better Way, I was 36 hours into the birthing of my daughter, my first time giving birth.
I was hours beyond the point of exhaustion and when I finally got the "permission" to push (30+ years later, I have opinions about this word in this context), I knew after one try that every person in the room was not just mistaken but also crazy.
There was no way this baby was going to be born this way, come out this way.
IMPOSSIBLE, I remember thinking.
Followed immediately by "There Has to be a Better Way."
I was almost delirious and thoughts of a hidden zipper, somewhere, were swimming in my crazed mind.
I was also aware that I was thoroughly powerless, at the mercy of possibly well-meaning but certainly misguided adults, including the father of my child. Nowhere to run and certainly zero energy left to explain, to make my case, to bring sense to this madness.
So I pushed. And eventually, I held my baby girl.
No zippers were involved.
This "There Has to be a Better Way" mindset has not always been wrong and over the years has allowed me to come up with some pretty creative solutions. It's been a good friend, really.
I may have grown a bit of an ego edge around it, too. In a Landmark seminar, years ago, I learned about the concept of "Strong Suits" and how they can get in our way. I think about my grandmother Lili and how she used to tell me "tu es bien debrouillarde." meaning that I was super resourceful, could find solutions to most situations. I heard her words loud and clear and eventually they even became part of my vocation, my work as a Life Coach.
And then sometimes, we get humbled.
Life in Mexico has a way to soften our ego's edges.
Twice in the last two weeks, I found myself assessing a situation and quickly declaring that "There Had to be a Better Way." Twice I was given a Gift.
There Has to be a Better Way #1
My girlfriend tells me that some women she knows are moving out of the house they had been renting and selling all their furniture. The hurricane messed up their place and they no longer can live there. She sends me photos of what's available, a white bench catches my eye.
"It's going to be a little walk to get the stuff because the river washed away the road, but we can do it."
Ha. We drive on a rocky road as close as we can get to the house and then we begin what I think will be a short easy walk. Through boulders "This is where their yard used to be," a new dry river bed, more rocks, a bunch of branches, and finally up a set of questionable steps to get to the house, then more steps inside the house. At last, there we are. In a room with a few pieces of furniture which I would love to teleport to my home. My home which suddenly feels as though it is on another planet.
I look around. I lift a night table. The bench. A set of shelves my friend wants. Not super light and like I said... on another planet.
It seems pretty darn impossible for the two of us to pick up the furniture, carry it down the narrow stairs to the outside where the questionable stairs and madness await us.
Nah. There Has to be Another Way. Period.
No way to push this baby out of my body, no way to get this furniture where we want it.
We think. We decide to pick up the lightest piece and shlep it to the car. Then to ask some of the workers we saw down the road if they would move the stuff for us. Carrying that first piece was ridiculous. It felt like half a mile. I was so glad we were going to get someone else to carry the rest.
Except we didn't. The guys were on a job and while they could help us at lunchtime, they couldn't do it then. And "then" is what we needed.
Back to the house. The shock factor has worn off a bit and the weather-ravaged road seems less crazy. Funny how quickly this happens.
We talk and then, having no other option than to go for it or leave the furniture, we decide to go for it. To push.
We made multiple trips. We grunted. We laughed. None of the things that had been on our minds that morning mattered as we watched our feet (both of us in flip flops), and our backs and eventually arranged all the pieces inside my car.
Then there was the matter of unloading it all - that's another whole chapter as my car's back door only opens from the inside and the inside well... the inside was now full - and walking my friend's pieces up her own post hurricane rocky road.
It took us about three hours. Little by little. We did it. No alternate solution, no tricks, no zippers. Just perseverance, a strong desire for the goal, and being good partners. Laughing at ourselves, too.
I love the furniture - and the story that it tells me each time I see it in my home. I love that we did it.
There Has to be a Better Way #2
Life didn't wait very long to give me another opportunity to be humble, to soften my well-honed "There Had to be a Better Way."
It was discovered that my underground water cistern had been leaking. Most likely a combination of it not having been built properly originally, and the earthquake shifting its walls. It had to be repaired.
The initial shock absorbed, it was time to get to it and have it fixed before the roof cistern - the tenaco - ran out of water. We had about a week and Roberto who has been working on my house so beautifully assured me we could do it.
First, the cistern had to be completely emptied and dried. Then the repairs would begin.
Emptying the last 30 cm of water was the job at hand and as I looked down the hole (I hope to never ever have to go down inside) and at the bucket Roberto planned to use, I of course immediately thought "There Has to be a Better Way."
Even though it was not deep, that was still a lot of water to get out of there, to the place where the pump could not reach. This bucket seemed as futile and slow as our four hands and feet carrying the furniture across the river bed.
A Shop Vac. We need a Shop Vac. OR .... a giant straw?? Something. Because this one bucket at a time business? That's plain kooky.
While I am using my mind to swirl around a bunch of Strong Suits options, the bucket is getting filled, walked up the ladder, dumped onto the thirsty plants, and brought back down.
I am still thinking. Searching for The Better Way.
One more bucket.
The next time the bucket gets raised to the top of the ladder, I grab it and I empty it. I lower it down.
Then I get a second bucket and off we go, me emptying one while he fills the other.
Again and again. Finding our rhythm. No words. My back muscles straining to do new moves, my pants getting muddier and muddier.
We take a break for me to have a coaching call and then we are back at it again.
The water is lowering, it is working. As he always knew it would.
When the level is too low to be scooped out, I lower the mop down to him.
And again, I hear my thoughts: this mop business is crazy. There Has to be a Better Way. But quieter this time.
Because I am learning: it is NOT crazy. It is real. It is slow and it works. It is simple.
Four arms and four legs over many rocks and a river bed.
A bucket and a mop down a deep cistern.
A strong body pushing a baby out.
Something about this has affected me, this past week. Living here affects me pretty much every day. It rubs away layers. Layers of arrogance, of fear, really.
It makes my body stronger and my mind quieter, too.