I was reminded today of this quote from Hamlet: “Neither a borrower nor a lender be…”
Some time ago I lent my sewing machine to another person, who used it for some months before returning it, having bought themselves a new sewing machine with the almost throw-away comment that mine was no longer working.
At the time, I didn’t have the ability to deal with the situation and point out that in my opinion, when you borrow something it should be returned in either the same condition or better. Certainly, not no longer working especially when you then just bought yourself a new one and left me with something apparently no longer fit for purpose. So I simply put the sewing machine aside and swallowed my anger and resentment.
However, today I got out my sewing machine so that I could resume dressmaking in accordance with my recently revised bucket list. I was, of course, expecting it not to be working and was intending to see if I could fit it myself or at least find out what was wrong.
Ironically, as I’ve let it sit for at least a year putting off doing this, there was nothing wrong with it. I wiped it down, oiled it, threaded a bobbin and the needle and proceeded to run through all 20+ stitches on an old pillow case. It worked perfectly.
It was certainly a nice surprise that it was working after all.
However, the experience reminded me of the rest of the quote from Hamlet which often gets forgotten:
“Neither a borrower nor a lender be. For loan oft loses both itself and friend. And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry. This above all: to thine own self be true. And it must follow, as the night the day. Thou canst not then be false to any man.” William Shakespeare (Hamlet)
The meaning of which is simply, that when you loan something you are likely to lose both the item and the friend to which you loaned it. That if you borrow something, you don’t have to work for it yourself quite as hard and that if you are true to yourself, you wouldn’t lie to anybody.
I’ve certainly found out the hard way, not just with the sewing machine but with significant amounts of money that loans and financial entanglements are a great way to ruin a friendship or relationship. That especially when money is involved, people tend to make false promises or assurances.
Therefore, I am going to use this sewing machine experience to remind myself of what I think is the most important message in the quote – to be true to myself.
Does that mean that I won’t ever loan anything to anybody. Not at all. It simply means that I won’t ever loan anything that I can’t afford to give them. In which way, if I don’t get the item back there is a good chance that the friendship or relationship can still survive.
Likewise I will never borrow anything that I don’t give back when I’m meant to, and in the same condition as it was in when lent to me or better.
Now for those of you that have borrowed things from me recently, this doesn’t give you permission to simply keep the items, it just means that I gave it to you to borrow knowing that if I don’t get it back I can cope without ill feeling towards you. Unlike the borrower of my sewing machine for whom I have felt great resentment for quite some time!
Today, I choose to let that resentment go. Whether I could have done so if the machine had in fact been broken, I’m not quite sure.
However, to paraphrase Steve Maraboli from his book ‘ Life, the Truth, and Being Free‘: Today is the day that I choose to stop being haunted by the ghost of yesterday. Holding a grudge & harboring anger/resentment is poison to my soul. Instead I will get even with people…but not those who have hurt me, I will simply forget them, instead I will get even with those who have helped me.
I challenge you to do the same….