Stuck in the Middle

Stuck in the Middle by Marci Kobayashi

When I feel too busy and out of time, I find “yoyu” by remembering to get out of indecisiveness and stay committed to my chosen path.

I used to feel like I was gifted permission from the heavens to carry on with at least two ideas, two projects, two paths, two of whatever I was doing. I was justified. I am a Gemini, after all.

However, having multiple interests isn’t always a gift. Sometimes it is a burden. When you have two options, how do you know which one you should be working towards?

I used to struggle with the “multiple interests” burden over and over again in my business. I would work on Project A one day and then get distracted by Project B the next. I would go back and forth and add other projects so that I had worked a lot by the end of the week, but not finished anything.

Fortunately, a chance meeting with a caterpillar on a bike path a few years ago changed how I approach my business, and each of the projects I take on within it.

I shared the story last year in  365 Soulful Messages: The Right Guidance at the Right Time, the final book in the best-selling 365 Book Series by Jodi Chapman and Dan Teck. With their permission, I’m sharing the excerpt below.

Truth be told, I forgot about the caterpillar story. Worse, I caught myself jumping back and forth between several projects again. I caught myself back in the frenzy of multiple passions and multiple possibilities.

“Multiple passions and possibilities” sounds so expansive and exciting. For me, it’s not. When I come down from the high, I experience being frustrated and stuck. So, here’s to the caterpillar!

Stuck in the Middle – an excerpt from 365 Soulful Messages

A fuzzy black caterpillar was making its way across the paved bike path to the leafy green bushes on the other side. I stopped to watch and cheer it on. Then, halfway across, it stopped, turned around, and headed back across the path toward the tree-lined side. It had only gone a short distance when it stopped and once again started back towards the bushes. I watched the caterpillar change directions over and over again. It never got far from the middle of the path. I couldn’t stop watching.

So far, no one else had come down the path. It is a well-used path by dog-walkers, and cyclists, so I started mentally urging the caterpillar on knowing it was a matter of time. From my perspective, either side seemed infinitely better than staying in the middle of the path.

Engrossed by the caterpillar, I didn’t notice the patrolling police officer coming up behind me on his bicycle. He stopped, questioning if I was in trouble. I pointed out the caterpillar and said I was just watching. He looked at me with concern, but wished me a good day and moved on. Shortly after, the caterpillar made its way all the way across the path without stopping and disappeared into the underbrush. I felt complete and continued my walk.

I think about that caterpillar every time I walk past the bend in the path where we met. I remember how indecision – or, rather, a lack of commitment to its chosen direction – was keeping this caterpillar stuck in the middle. There is nothing inherently wrong with being in the middle of a path. The caterpillar could have stayed right there. Perhaps it would have become food for a crow. Or, maybe it would have died in the sun and made food for the ants. Both are worthy fates in the cycle of life.

I don’t know what happened to the caterpillar after it crossed the path. What I know for sure, though, is that if it had stayed in the middle, becoming a butterfly would not have been one of its fates.

So, there you have it! Are you choosing to be stuck in the middle? Or are you choosing to embrace your transformation and fly?

A little follow up on the true fate of the caterpillar I encountered…

The picture you see above is mine and was taken near the same location. However, it isn’t the type of butterfly that my caterpillar teacher would have become.

My best guess is that it didn’t become a butterfly, because it was destined to become a moth. I’m fairly certain it was a Kibarakenmon caterpillar. You can see a clear photo of one here.

And, here is a Kibarakenmon I found on the same bike path. (If I have misidentified it, someone, please correct me!) Who knows, maybe this was the very same caterpillar I saw that day!

Kibarakenmon Moth

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About the Author:

Hi! I'm Marci. When I'm not writing, building websites, or coaching clients, I love walking the streets of Japan and discovering spirit in all shapes and forms. Here on the blog, you'll also get a peek into what it is like to live with and care for my Japanese father-in-law who has Alzheimer’s. Enjoy!

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