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COLUMNS

Connie Mason Michaelis: Evolve or dissolve

Connie Mason Michaelis
Special to The Capital-journal
Connie Mason Michaelis

I have a friend that persistently uses the word evolving instead of aging. At first, I thought he just bristled at the thought of aging and preferred to use a more tolerable and acceptable word that describes the same thing.

I assumed he was in denial, and just as a rose by any other name smells as sweet, aging by any other name looks the same! Because of my years of writing about this topic, I am over being sensitive about the concept of aging.

As a matter of fact, I think aging is a gift, and we are fortunate to grow old. But after some consideration, I think he may be on to something important.

Webster says evolving means “develop gradually, especially from a simple to a more complex form.” Wow, what an excellent description of successful aging, moving from simple to complex!

When you look at a dozen infants in the hospital nursery, they are more alike than they ever will be. Actually, it might be difficult for a parent to recognize their own child from others born at the same time.

But, every day, they become more complex and unique. It is true of brothers and sisters in the same family who share similar DNA. It is even true of twins who share the most DNA, but yet through their environment, they develop distinctive characteristics.

Each year we become more complex. It starts with genetics but now includes environment, upbringing, life experience, relationships, education, etc.

The truth is not all people age well, or I should say they don’t seem to evolve at all. They get stuck, rigid, angry and bitter. Their refusal to accept the natural process does not serve them; it just leaves them frustrated and indignant. As opposed to evolving, they seem to be dissolving.

Although the primary definition of dissolve is to liquefy, Webster lists synonyms like termination, cease, conclude, and break down. Those same words apply to those individuals that refuse to recognize the meaning and process of aging.

Like my friend, I have decided evolve is an excellent word for successful aging. So the question is, do you want to evolve or dissolve?

Find Connie’s new book, “Daily Cures: Wisdom for Healthy Aging,” at www.justnowoldenough.com.