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For the past few years the fact of evolution has taken up permanent residence in my mind. I have been surprised by how the concept has altered my perceptions of life, intelligence, history, science, religion, even relationships and the present moment. There is a force at work expanding the Universe and taking all of creation somewhere.
When I am mindful of that force, the turnings, particularly the challenges of life, have a meaning I might have missed otherwise. The erosions of evolution are difficult to accept, let alone avoid. Erosion has its say with everyone, even those who may not sense it, every day. Making peace with its impact can be difficult.
Three areas, specifically, need to be considered: vulnerability, change and loss.
Vulnerability is nothing new to being human. Life is fragile all the way through for all but in its endgame that fragility increases exponentially — the longer one lives the more fragile life becomes. Health, mobility, memory and energy are constant concerns. Honesty and mindfulness are essential qualities for longevity, asking for and accepting help as well.
Change is a fact of life. Recognizing, accepting and working with it, not against it may not keep one young but can keep one moving. Change is the Universe breathing. It is also the essence of evolution. While erosion is an unavoidable part of the process, always feeling like loss, it helps to know evolution is always moving forward, even in its erosions. Always.
Dealing with loss is a reality of life. At every turn loss speaks the language of change and life’s fragility. Many changes are positive in human experience but too many are about loss, especially as one grows older. Family and friends dying, health and independence, diminishing eyesight, hearing, memory, balance and energy — all at the top of the list. Such erosions become a fact of life all too soon.
But erosion comes with evolution, the force that seems to be going somewhere and taking us with it. Those who accept evolution need a kind of secular faith to deal with its impact, particularly its erosions. But where it is taking us needs something more — a spiritual faith. Nothing challenges the human spirit more than one’s sense of fragility. It helps to believe that evolution as well as its erosions are taking us somewhere.