Unknotting The Knots

You may be interested to know that one reason there hasn’t been a blog post for a few weeks is because, amazingly enough, Betsy actually IS working.  But it turned out that the work she was doing had gotten all tangled and snarled, like a ball of thread that had become hopelessly knotted. 

Then one day, when the ball of thread Betsy was pushing would not roll any further because it was so knotted and snarled and tangled, Betsy sat down and started working on unraveling the situation.

Here’s how it went…


Betsy is walking up a tall mountain.  She is carrying a ball that is really just a huge wad of tangled threads.  A single thread is coming from the ball and winding off behind her.  As she walks, the thread continues to unwind to show her where she’s been.  But it’s been getting difficult to keep moving.  The massive tangle in Betsy’s hands prevents the thread from unwinding smoothly.  Sometimes Betsy has to yank at it to keep it going.  Her progress has become full of stops and starts.


Then, suddenly, Betsy can’t go any further.  The thread is stuck.  She yanks.  Nothing.  She pulls.  Nothing.  She twists and turns.  Nothing. “Oh, for heavens sakes.”  Betsy sits down on the mountainside and pulls at the thread that has been unwinding behind her, trying to dislodge it from the tangle.  It doesn’t move.


When she looks closer, she sees that the thread has become impossibly knotted, just like a fine necklace that’s been carelessly dropped into a jewelry box.

In fact, this exact thing happened to Betsy once.  She had tossed a necklace into the bottom of her jewelry box without thought.  The chain of the necklace was so fine that it became knotted almost at once, and the knot was so difficult to see that Betsy almost gave up trying to get it free. But the necklace was precious to her, so she persevered and was eventually successful.  It just took a lot of time.  Does she want to spend the time here?

But this tangle of threads is precious too, isn’t it?

Betsy picks at the clump of knots with her fingernail with no result.

“I see the knots, but they are such a mess that I can’t see where to pull to get them out,” she mutters.

Betsy picks up her tangle of threads, looks at it.  Holds it up in the air above her head.  Scratches at it, tries to tease it apart, but she can’t make an opening.

“What am I supposed to do now?”

“Keep working at it.” 

Betsy turns to see the Muse is walking towards her, flowing up the mountain.

“Keep working at it!  Do you see how knotted it all is in there?  This is a waste of time.”

“Well, I suppose you can throw this mess away and go back to the beginning.  Start again.”

“I don’t want to do that either.”

Muse settles on the ground beside Betsy.  Raises an eyebrow.

Betsy sighs and goes back to work on the knots.  She picks at the tight thread until there’s a little leeway and she can get her fingernail into the first knot.  When it loosens enough, she pulls it apart.

That’s not going to help much.  The knot is loose, but when she starts things rolling again, it will only tighten up and be as bad as it was before.

Betsy thinks for a moment.

“You know what you have to do,” the Muse says.

Betsy does.  With a sigh, she starts pulling the string that has been unwinding behind her as she has climbed the mountain.  She gathers it into a neat little ball, only a tiny fraction the size of the tangle she’d been holding (she hadn’t gotten very far before the knots stopped her).  Once she has it all wrapped up, it’s pretty easy to loosen the knot and slip the little ball through the loops.  Then the knot is gone and the thread is smooth in her hand.

She does this for the next knot.  And the next.  And the next.

This goes on for quite some time.  Some of the knots are tricky and require a lot of thought.  But eventually, it looks like the knots are out.  Not all of them, of course.  Some are still embedded into the thread itself.  But the big ones, the ones that were making the thread a tangled mess, are relatively smooth.

“Good job,” the Muse tells her.

“I guess, but now I’ve lost my way,” Betsy says.  “Since I had to pull up the thread that was behind me, I don’t know where I came from.”

“Roll that ball and let the thread that was behind you go back to the beginning,” the Muse tells her.

Betsy does as she suggests and the little ball of thread rolls back down the mountain.  Betsy frowns.

“But that’s not right.  It didn’t go back to where it was before.”

“Of course not.  Where it was before is what created all of those knots as you got further along.”

“Oh.”  Betsy frowns.  “So you’re saying I wasn’t quite on the right path.”

“No.  And that got everything all tangled and snarled.  But now you’re smoothed out and ready to roll again.”

“Will it stay that way?” Betsy demands.

The Muse shrugs.  “Probably not.  Sometimes you have to work out a few knots before you really know where you’re going.”

“I guess.” Betsy sighs and starts moving again.


To be continued…






Speak Your Mind


Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.