Paula Schneider            I recently saw an image on the Internet that shook me to my core, and led me to give much thought to its possible symbolic meanings. The drawing was of a voluptuous female, shown from her back, in a passionate embrace with a skeleton. The teeth of the skeleton were biting into her back. The person who drew this image said that it represented how the woman was hanging on to a dead relationship far too long and that it was sucking the very life out of her.

            Immediately I was cast back in time and remembered several relationships that I had enjoyed through the years that did not end well. On a few occasions, I clung (sometimes overly long) to the hope that something would change and that I would finally get my way. So, I really could relate to the artist’s interpretation of this image, as it was a good visualization of something I had experienced myself.

            As I pored over this picture’s deep and broader meanings and applications, I had some other thoughts and memories. When my parents were alive, they loved (or seemed to love) re-hashing old events and arguing about them. Mother saw it one way, Daddy saw it another. And interestingly, they would do this for hours at a time, especially after my father retired. This behavior went on for no less than 20 years. Their arguing was maddening to me, and at one point I likened their pattern to pulling old skeletons out of the closet and gnawing on them for 8 hours and then putting them back into the closet only to remove them again the next day and resume the gnawing. I noticed, too, that none of the issues they discussed ever really got resolved, or put to rest. And, while they were having this daily discourse, nothing productive ever got done. Now, in reflecting over this image, I believe their hashing and re-hashing was sucking the life from each of them, from their relationship, and from anyone else who had to listen to them as well!

            So, it comes down to this: How often do I gnaw on old bones–old memories, dried out thoughts, ancient regrets, dreams that did not come to fruition, guilt over past actions or inaction, memories of failed relationships, jobs that turned out badly–in fact, anything that captivates my attention and sucks the life out of me? I believe that we all do this, often unconsciously. The real challenge is to recognize when we are doing it, wake up, and STOP the thoughts before they get going. Stop them before they begin to take our life energy. Then, turn the thought train around and consider things in our life that give us feelings of vibrancy, energy, and wholesomeness. Focus on our deep values and the things that give us life, and begin to act on those things.

            Which do you choose? Old dry bones attached to a skeleton that sucks you dry, or life-affirming thoughts and potential outpictured as a healthy body? Every day that dawns gives us new opportunities to express and share rich, vibrant, and healthy thoughts and activities. Choose wisely!