Special thanks to Janet for providing the photographs. Janet is in Arizona and I encourage readers to visit her at This, That and the Other Thing, Please tell her I sent you and feel free to comment on her images here. All photos are copyrighted by Janet Webb.
Click the video above for 2 minutes of background waves while reading.
I like walking on the beach. It is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.
A podcast I listened to yesterday used a song that I hadn’t heard in some time – the phrase that seems dumb. One that became an earworm for my day, then a mantra for provoking thoughts as I walk: “Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones.”
Yes – thinking about bones as I walk – that hard, whitish tissue making up a skeleton.
I look at the sea and think about power and strength. Our bones are strong. Their rigidity and strength serve as the framework to hold us upright – an uprightness not commonly found in nature.
Bony support is in all those organisms with backbones. The birds in the air over the water and land. The fishes in the deep blue sea. The mammals on land – plus the dolphins, porpoises, and whales that swim the ocean waters. Let us not forget the terrestrial reptiles, or amphibians, whose life is both on land and in the water. But not the sharks, rays, and skates because their bones are not bones. They are cartilage, which is strong enough for support while being more flexible than bone.
I see a jellyfish the waves washed ashore. Without a doubt, it is boneless – without a brain as we know it to protect, and a body able to live without supporting itself.
The water of the sea freely moves. To us, the movement seems effortless. The water moved that jellyfish to shore without its consent, but the design of our bones allows us to move freely.
I look down at the shells on the sand as if they were bones. Yes – the animals who lived in those empty shells were supported and protected by those shells – but far from the same way that our bones support and protect us. After all, their soft bodies are boneless.
Like bones, calcium is an essential component in those shells. As kids, adults told us to drink our milk so we can have strong bones. Yet late in life, too many people fight decreasing amounts of calcium from osteoporosis.
I stop to look through a large patch of shells. Such a wide variety of colors, sizes, and features. Some smooth, others with ridges, bumps, and grooves – all for reasons.
Our bones are also smooth with ridges, bumps, and grooves. All are places that either allow movement or serve as a place for muscles to attach.
Remember this song? Foot bones connected to the heel bone. The heel bone connected to the ankle bones. The ankle bones connect to the leg bone … and so on.
Whether movable or immovable, bones meet at joints. Well, except the hyoid bone, which seemingly floats between the chin and throat while serving as a place for tongue attachment.
I think about our 206 bones of various shapes and sizes: from the strong femur in the leg to the three tiny bones in the inner ear; each bone purposefully designed. But in our early life, each of us had many more bones.
Dem bones, dem bones, dem spooky bones. Dry and rattling for the sounds of Halloween and the Day of the Dead. Times with the unexpected causing us to jump and shake when suddenly startled.
Each of us have skeletons in our closets – hidden secrets from the past that may be so shocking, embarrassing, shameful that one does not want to disclose.
Some describe life as a conscious time in our journey from dust to dust. There will be a point when each of us becomes just bones. In some cultures, families dig up the bones of a loved one from the cemetery grave so someone else can use the space. I can’t imagine the emotions of digging, wondering, finding, then gathering the person they loved. Then what? One last goodbye? Final closure? A feeling of peace? I honestly don’t know.
I think about how bones point to the past – not the future. Bones are how we remember dinosaurs. The bones reminding us of ancient human history – a vanished humanity. Bones that somehow survived the elements of time, then found to tell a story.
Many associate swashbuckling pirates with a skull and crossbones on a black flag, even if cross swords replace the bones. But, the skull and crossbones on a bottle or a package identifies a poison.
Dogs love a bone, a simple thing occupying them for hours – but they don’t freely share them with others. We also know that this old man played knick-knack paddywhack as he gave the dog a bone as he rolled home.
We describe some people as bad to the bone, a bag of ones, big-boned, or boneheaded. We discuss wishbones, crazy bones, and funny bones. We also tell others that sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.
We can ask for someone to throw us a bone, work our fingers down to the bone, or have a bone of contention with someone, which can be just a bone to pick – but some things and feelings are just in our bones.
Dem bones, dem bones, dem bones. There is more to say about bones, but I am content with these musings because I like walking on the beach, which is good for the mind, body, and soul – and refreshing on my feet.
See what other bloggers have written about bones
- Bones (poem)
- Prayers of Bone (poem)
- Bone Weary (very short story)
- Bone Marrow Essence (poem)
- Bone Health (wellness essay)
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