An aphorism by James Geary, author of The World in a Phrase and Geary’s Guide to the World’s Great Aphorists.
James Geary | June/July 2009 issue
A loose thread protruding from my favorite sweater. So this is what everything hangs by; this is what holds it all together. A thread can never relax; it shrivels if you cut it too much slack. Tension is the only thing that gives it shape, purpose. It gladly bears the stress even as it starts to fray around the edges. Once shorn from its pattern, though, a thread becomes lost, distraught, useless as a snapped violin string, a coil of old rope. This no doubt explains a thread’s tenacity, knowing how quickly things unravel, that clinging is its only strength. “The weakest link in the chain is also the strongest,” Polish aphorist Stanislaw Jerzy Lec wrote. “It can break the chain.”
James Geary is the author of The World in a Phrase: A History of Aphorisms
and Geary’s Guide to the World’s Great Aphorists