"So...why bones?"

“So…Why Bones?”

A short story of an honest question and the search for an honest answer.

     A while back, I was in the city having dinner with a friend. This was the first casual meeting so some getting-to-know-you was in order. As we're sitting there in conversation, we would ask one another questions in an attempt to get to know the other a little better. One of the questions I was asked was, "Why bones?".

A little context here: I've always liked bones and fossils. I've used skeletal imagery in my art design, crafted bones into decorations, and I have a collection of various animal skulls that I've been amassing since childhood. After talking for a year prior to this night, my date had picked up on some things I like. Okay, okay, I get it. A bone collection might come off a little odd to some. (Maybe even a little red-flaggy. We've all watched Dahmer on Netflix😬). I just know that I like all things osteo.


This question (or maybe the person) got me thinking. I didn't have an actual articulated answer for this person (or even myself, really). Though I couldn't then or now say why but I really wasn't expecting them to ask me that. I probably responded with something like "I'm not sure, I just do". Which is such an unsatisfactory response in my mind, ugh. Now, I'm a pretty intentional person and not being prepared to explain my bone/fossil fascination preoccupied me after the night was over (and my regrettable hangover had subsided to a dull temporal throb). I began to reflect and delve into why I'm so fond of the osseous matter🦴.

The superficial answer

I probably should have been a paleontologist or gone into forensic anthropology. When I'm on an outdoor adventure, I really enjoy finding and identifying skeletal remains. It's like a treasure hunt in a way. Determining a COD and attempting to put the pieces back together is like a compelling puzzle.

All of that is cool but again, it's the short answer. It scratches the surface, offering just a sliver of an acceptable and reasonable explanation, but it doesn't really explain why I like to incorporate skulls and skull imagery into art, clothing, decor etc. 

The deeper answer

Symbolism. Bones must symbolize something to me. Generally, it would seem that the image of a skull most commonly denotes death, danger, poison - basically all negative connotations. For me, that couldn't be more wrong. Like the frame of a house or vehicle, the ruins of a long-forgotten civilization, bones are the frame for a temple, a vessel, occupied by a lifeforce. When observing and studying bones, I see a glimpse into a story of strength and fragility. I'm comforted by them (for lack of a better term) as a reminder that life is fleeting and, at the same time, enduring. The skull (of whatever creature) is my Memento Mori and I embrace that. A token of life's impermanence. As morbid as that may sound, it's not, really. Fearing death or the end of this life, in my humble opinion, is not beneficial in any way. I've always sought to understand, accept, and honor the process that is life. Yes, it's true that a Memento Mori is a reminder that we're all going to die but it is also a reminder that, first…we must live. And that, my friends, is just what we should do. 

Memento Vivere!


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