My 7th-grade biology teacher would be proud of me. I still remember the fact that we have 206 bones in our body. My doctor would also be proud of me, since I’ve only broken one or two of those bones in all these years.
Then there’s Reba McEntire. Yes, that cute little red-haired country music singer who has her own theory on bones. I saw her on television New Year’s day morning. It was early, the CBS Morning News hosts didn’t much want to be there after a night of revelry, and even the normally perky Ms. McEntire didn’t look so awfully perky. But she was there nevertheless, talking about bones, about the fact that to be successful in life, only three of them really mattered, and it caught my attention.
To Reba, our most important bones are our wishbone, our backbone, and our funny bone. Good call, I thought, hoping she’d elaborate, but she didn’t. CBS played a bunch of commercials, and when they came back from the break, Reba was gone. So I’d like to take it from here and give you my take.
A wishbone is really something confined to birds and dinosaurs. It’s where their clavicles are fused. While humans have clavicles — also called collarbones — ours are not fused; hence, we have no wishbones per se, yet we do. Perhaps not anatomically, but each of us has a wishbone. Some of us use it to fuel a bucket list, others to fantasize about things we want, places we long to be, or situations we want altered or resolved. As a child, Mom may have told you to “stop dreaming,” or “wishing won’t make it so,” but hopefully you didn’t stop. We grew up wishing on stars, on baby teeth, on rainbows and ladybugs — we still make a wish before blowing out the candles on a cake. We need that wishbone! Internationally known psychic medium Anthon St. Maarten said, “Dare to dream! If you did not have the capability to make your wildest dreams come true, your mind would not have the capacity to conjure ideas in the first place.” So Mom was wrong, wishing just might make it so.
One of the most common complaints in doctors’ offices, especially during cold winter months, is a sore back. It might be genetic, it could be from shoveling snow or carrying too heavy a load, or even stress, but the fact remains many of us complain of backache. But no one complains about having a strong backbone!
Anatomically, a backbone is your spine; it’s what connects you, keeps you erect. But having a good backbone figuratively is a sign of strength, of succeeding and not failing. Doctors and physical therapists can give you lots of ways to prevent back injury, but few people tell you how to develop a backbone. That’s something we’ve all got to figure out as we grow, go through life, and experience things. It’s certainly a plus when someone’s “got your back,” but even greater when you’re also confident of yours, while at the same time looking out for others.
The funny bone. I’m not sure why, when you accidentally hit your elbow and get that electrical shock-like tingling and numbness running through your arm, there’s hardly anything funny about it. Fact is, the funny bone isn’t a bone at all ... it’s a nerve that runs down the inside part of the elbow. It was so named because it sounds like humerus, the long bone in the upper arm. I think today many of us have completely lost our funny bone, our sense of humor. We are so on edge, so willing to criticize, to sue someone, to act out. We need to lighten up. Legendary football coach Lou Holtz opined, “The problem with having a sense of humor is often that the people you use it on aren’t in a very good mood.” Lou was right!
When we break bones, doctors repair them in a variety of ways. They can fuse them, they can cast them, put splints on them, they may even put them in traction. But the one thing they can’t do is teach you how to wish, give you some backbone, or show you how to find the humor in life and live it every day.
That’s your therapy, and something you must do for yourself, so ... get crackin’.
Rona Mann has been a freelance writer for The Sun for 17 years, including her “In Their Shoes” features. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 401-539-7762.