Frayed, fringed, and frazzled

The theme of this week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is “Fray.” My mind kept wandering to fringes, borders, and edges.


It seemed to me that a frayed edge was not merely a “fringe” but it was a worn fringe or edge. A fringed border can be artsy and add value and interest to the piece of clothing or fabric it is attached to. However, a frayed border implies something that is worn out, no longer as desirable, no longer fresh.

stand of dry grasses

Frayed nerves bring to mind something that is being rubbed so thin that it might break soon. There is an implication of weakening, straining and decaying.

storm damage

On the other hand, fringe is not always accompanied by the sweet smell of roses.  It also has its negative connotations: living on the fringes of society implies living in poverty, perhaps homelessness, different from the mainstream to the point of being unacceptable and undesirable.


Living on the fringe can also refer to extremists, people who CHOOSE to remain outside of the larger society.


Actually, we are all living on the edge, the outer edge of the planet’s ability to tolerate us. We have exploded our numbers, our consumption, our waste, our fumes. Our appetites are voracious. We displace, then we extinguish, animal and plant species every day. We displace other human beings, push them to the edge, then into the abyss.

busy bees

in the fray of things

The last few weeks, it has been impossible to see any news that did not reflect the darkness of our human nature: war, torture and killings, police brutality, posturing and threats.


songbird feathers

Add to that mix the earth’s rumblings, earthquakes, volcanic fumes, mudslides…

broken tree

I had felt the edge of despair, my patience was fraying, my tolerance pushed to the fringe with the ugly news, piling on top of each other like a massive heap of bloodied and torn laundry.

tangled vines on pergola

My kindred-spirit friends weren’t much help, either, as lost in the thicket as I was:

seeking clarity

Then I came across this nourishing passage:

bachelor button

In the September/October 2014 issue of “Spirituality & Health,” John Robbins (author of Diet for a New America, Voices of the Food Revolution, and No Happy Cows) was asked the following question: “How do you maintain hope for change when faced with our current global situation?” He responded:

“I look out into the world, and I see a deep night of unthinkable cruelty and blindness. But when I look within the human heart, I find something of love there, something that cares and shines out into the darkness of our times like a bright beacon. And in the shining of that inner light, I feel the dreams and prayers of all beings. In the shining of that beacon, I feel all of our hopes for a better future. In the shining of our heart lights, we find the strength to do what must be done.”

There was strength and solidity in these words,

shagbark hickory 

letting in a bit of light and hope:

fringe tree

About Beauty Along the Road

A blog about discovering beauty in all its ordinary and extraordinary manifestations.
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9 Responses to Frayed, fringed, and frazzled

  1. Thom Hickey says:

    Thanks Annette. Very atmospheric and thought provoking. Regards Thom.


  2. 2far2shout says:

    Beautiful post. More a gentle dissertation than a post. I love the frayed tree trunk, sort of upside-down. Thanks


  3. Lovely choices for the challenge, Annette. I especially love the thistle. So glad that you found “light and hope” n John Robbin’s words.


  4. Very powerful, Annette. Strength and solidarity…much needed attributes in our troubled world today.


  5. Annette, you have no idea how much I needed that life-affirming quote. I’ve felt exactly as you describe over the past week or so. Went to church on Sunday hoping for perhaps a little insight into how to cope with it all and got nothing. And then here, in your post is something to hold onto!


    • So glad this was of help to you, Barbara. Right now, even a small source of comfort is welcome. I was poo-pooing the ice bucket challenge as just another hype (although the ALS Foundation is grateful), another excuse for a “selfie” perhaps. But my step-son challenged me by asking: “so, we can’t have any fun anymore just because things are bad somewhere else?” He’s got a point…


  6. Sue Slaght says:

    What a fabulous gallery for the theme. I am particularly taken with the swans and ducks hanging out together.


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