Wednesday, December 7, 2011

"Don't Borrow No Trouble"

My friend Velator and I on the most beautiful hike of my life at Red Mountain Spa and Resort

My mother used to say, “Don’t borrow no trouble, the day has enough of its own.” As a child, I pondered the meaning of this. “How do you borrow trouble?” I’d wonder to myself. I dared not ask out loud or point out that borrowing trouble made no sense at all. As if she could read my thoughts, my mother would say “Just keep on living, you’ll find out what I mean.” As time when on, I made mental notes of what was happening whenever my mother pulled out the old “Don’t borrow trouble” line and noticed that it seemed to happen whenever someone was getting involved with unwanted trouble unnecessarily. If someone was trying to share gossip my mother would tell them, “You know I don’t borrow no trouble.” If someone was “messing” in someone else’s business, she’d say, “You better stop borrowing.”

Then one day, her words came full circle, I had lived long enough to really get her meaning. I was dealing with a dilemma and noticed that I was having a harder time than usual in solving the problem, and suddenly it occurred to me; the problem I had was not my own. I was borrowing someone else’s troubles. I had allowed a neighbor to dump her issues into my lap and was wondering why things were so hard. The answer was simple, the issue was not my own.

How often do we unknowingly take on the woes of someone else? I’m not talking about helping someone in need; I’m talking about enabling others in the drama of their lives. Too often, people create drama so they can have something to star in, then we are drawn into the play as a cast member of their performance.

Last year I met an amazing woman. She suffered from spinal cancer, but was always smiling. We went on a hiking trip even though she would not be able to do the hikes. Each day, my friend would walk around the grounds of the spa. She was on a walker and sometimes needed to stop for a break, but she was smiling the entire time. On the fourth day of our trip, I told her that I would drive her up to a trail I hadn’t been on and we could take a few steps on a trail in the mountains. She lit up and said, “I’ll be ready.” When we got there, I discovered that the trail was more difficult than I expected. The trail was full of lava rock and was rather technical. At first I was dismayed and figured I had bitten off more than I could chew. But my friend was smiling and so I wanted to make sure she enjoyed the morning. “We’ll go as far as you can,” I said, then we’ll stop, but I am here with you and we will do this trail together.”

We pushed over the lava rock and around the side of a mountain where the drop off was more than I wanted to see. We went through soft sand and slippery rocks and before we knew it, we had gone the entire 3 mile trail. It took much longer than it would have if I had been on my own, but it was the most beautiful hike I’d ever been on. We held each other and cried and I knew the true balance of sharing each other’s burdens. The hike felt like what life should be like when you help someone and they in turn help you. I helped my friend around the mountain and she helped me to slow down, see more and truly feel the ground under my feet.

We all need a little help and we all need to be helpful, but we must avoid the need to enable others in the drama of their lives.

·         Is the chaos of your life your own?

·         How can you avoid being drawn into someone else’s drama?

·         How can you turn a gossip session into a conversation of gratitude?
And how can you help others in a balanced and beautiful way?

Into each life a little rain must fall. I have had a year of it, but I also have a charmed life. A great deal of this charm comes being grateful and sharing my life with others, but the other part comes from the avoidance of someone else’s drama. I help out whenever possible, and probably do so more often than not, but when the problems of someone else’s life become the burdens of your own, you are borrowing trouble.

“Don’t borrow no trouble, the day has enough of its own.”


Bertice Berry PhD


  1. J. A. Bernal --Savannah, GADecember 7, 2011 at 10:50 AM

    This lesson will help me as I learn to not want more for others than they want for themselves.The more I learn about myself, the more I change, the more I change, the more I grow.
    Great insight--Thanks

  2. As you have since we were teens, you thoughts and words inspire me. Thank you for such great insight, my friend. Sending love and light to you!
    Have a wondering new year!