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 …