I’m in the vast waters of a big writing project and in the last month, I’ve been flailing. No, I’m not sinking or drowning. There’s a lot of activity going on—arms flapping up and down, legs dog-paddling, water splashing in my face—but I’m not making a lot of progress.
Being in the middle of anything is a precarious place to be. The middle child, middle school, midlife, middle-of-the-road. If you don’t watch out, you can get stuck in that in-between place, the neither-here-nor-there position. You can’t go back and you can’t seem to move forward either. There’s a reason the phrase “midlife” is typically followed by “crisis.”
Being in this mid-place kind of freaks me out because I’m so familiar with it. I’m a middle child and I can assure you that there’s a reason why there’s a “middle child syndrome” but never an “oldest” or “youngest” syndrome. Like most of us, I still carry the scars of middle school. Can anyone say that those years were their favorite? I’m not even going to touch the issues with midlife because it’s going to take the rest of my life to deal with them. And middle-of-the-road? Please. This is where I spend most of my time, yet there’s this definite cultural stigma about being there. Even the online Free Dictionary explains the phrase by saying, “I don’t want to be a middle-of-the-road person.” There you have it.
I don’t know how long I’ll be adrift, but I know I’ll be in the middle, in some way, forever. The only saving grace for that is that the middle is also the center. I love the center (as you can tell by the name of my blog and my writing workshop business.) And the center….well, since we talk a lot about the benefits of staying centered—being well-balanced, focused, calm—then I’d say that is a very beautiful, rewarding place to be. If I can just stop flailing for a few minutes so I can enjoy it….