Coming out of college is like being a seed dropped into a hole. It’s dark, there’s no telling which way is up, and that poor seed doesn’t even know what kind of plant it is yet. In those early and critical years of life-building, struggling up towards the surface feels like the only thing that matters. Every gain—a friend, an apartment, a job—is the next link in the chain of survival. At least for me, relentless effort felt like the only way to break into sunlight—to find out what kind of plant I was.

But now, I wonder how to keep growing while holding all of these beautiful parts of my adult life. Blind tenacity doesn’t quite seem to fit this season. Like holding an exquisitely fragile bird in a strong hand, I want to be a keeper of my life without becoming a captor of things that need to be set free. 

I’ve been thinking about leaving Buffalo. My company is based in Rochester, and honestly, I never imagined that what I intended as a two-year waylay would become a five-year nesting. I love Buffalo, but it doesn’t feel like the final place to land, and trying to love something after its season has passed is bittersweet in all the wrong ways. Places are so important, and in this unprecedented period of transience, I want to commit to “neighboring” in purposeful ways, but I think my capacity to be a good neighbor across communities is greater than I initially believed. 

The places that I have lived in and loved: my parent’s home, Michigan, Ellicottville, Buffalo—those places are riverbeds in me, shaping the current of my life forever. My mom, a missionary kid from Brazil, has shown me how to love a place deeply without being there often. There is grief, but there is also the beauty of a faithful life, and of letting go in order to courageously take hold of the next season. I see the peace in her, and the cultivated ability to love by holding loosely. 

Three years of illness have built on her example and helped me to see just how fragile it all is. Our jobs, our apartments, our friends, our independence, our most joyful activities can all be taken away. I want my life to be characterized by the ease of someone who is so gracious, and so confident in the beauty of the big narrative, that the coming and going of things is just a line in the poem. Mostly, I know that I don’t want to miss the best moments of the people, places, and things that I love because I am crushing them in the death grip of my own fear. Like swinging across a long set of monkey bars, our lives are the adventure of holding on tight, and releasing at exactly the right moment. 

I see people all around me doing this everyday, living calmly in the natural state of flux that defines our lives. In and out of homes, in and out of relationships, in and out of careers and hobbies. Like breathing with wide open hands, ready to hold whatever comes next. 

In and out … in and out … in and out …


  1. Cameron Young

    Thank you, Ansley. You have again said, so eloquently, things I have long felt. There is a bit of balladeer in you, turning battle tested truths into song and verse that give meaning and clarity to emotions and impressions.

  2. Rita Young

    You have captured where many of us live honing our skill of being content in whatever state we live (State like Illinois, Michigan, Ceara’’ and state like new grad, middle-age, old.). God guides and we try to stay attuned. You mom is a good model and we are thankful for that. May your step-by-step be blessed.

  3. Kyric Koning

    In the transience of life, grace is so important. It is a hard lesson for those of us who have a hard time letting go, who want to keep things as they are and unwilling to let things become. But life is becoming, and that journey and those relationships only occur with that most important next step.

    With everything that you’ve shown so far, all the trials and challenges you’ve overcome, and the wisdom you’ve evoked in your writing, I know you are more than ready for your next steps, whatever they may be. Thank you for being a light and an inspiration during some of my own dark times. Thank you for beautiful prose and wisdom and sharing difficulty with strangers. Perhaps that too will become less strange and less difficult.
    Best wishes on the continuation of your own path.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

post calvin direct

Get new posts from Ansley Kelly delivered straight to your inbox.

the post calvin