I was working out in my basement on Thursday morning and had just picked up my yoga mat when out jumped one of those nasty red centipedes. Okay, okay, maybe I was the one who jumped. But he did do that erratic dance that centipedes always seem to do, scurrying this way and that as though looking for the pedestal on Ellen’s Blindfolded Musical Chairs. (If you haven’t seen this on Ellen’s Game of Games, look it up, it’s hilarious!)
I’ll be honest with you, I am a complete girly girl when it comes to bugs and the more legs they have, the more they make my skin crawl. I’m perfectly happy to ignore those that make their homes in the unseen nooks and crannies of my house, but the second they venture into my space, it’s a declaration of war. It’s them or me. And I always come armed.
I’m not talking about a folded newspaper or a wadded up tissue or even a shoe. Nope. My weapon of choice is the BugZooka. (Trust me, it’s a real thing.) My husband bought this marvelous invention for me during a really rainy summer when we were dealing with an influx of millipedes and it is quite possibly one of my favorite gifts ever. (He knows me well . . . the way to warm my heart isn’t through flowers, but a plastic “gun” that allows me to capture bugs from two feet away.)
Back to that centipede. As soon as I saw him, I ran to the utility room to grab the BugZooka. I was gone for five seconds, tops. Do you think he stayed put in that short amount of time? Of course not. But I had paid attention. I knew exactly where he was, I knew in which direction he was headed, and using my quick mental calculation (his estimated speed multiplied by the length of my absence), I knew where he should have been.
He wasn’t there. He was, in fact, nowhere to be seen. And there was absolutely no way I was going to get on the floor to exercise with him on the loose. So I scoured the carpet and looked under furniture until I finally found him. He had returned to the exact same spot where we first met. I quickly sucked him up into the BugZooka and that was that.
Later, as I was thinking about the whole thing, it dawned on me how that little bug had behaved like a full-grown human. You see, if he had just continued moving forward there was a chance he could have reached the safety of my husband’s desk and I may have never found him. But he didn’t. Instead of stepping out into unfamiliar territory, instead of breaking out of his comfort zone, he chose to retreat back to what he knew.
How many times do we do that? How many times along our paths of goal-achievement and growth do we close in on a threshold only to slide back into old patterns because this new place is scary and uncomfortable? Maybe you’re in that situation right now. Maybe you’ve climbed further up the mountain than you’ve ever been, but you feel alone and unsure and you’re looking with longing at the security of the well-traveled trail below.
If so, I urge you to keep moving forward. Push onward and upward, past the BugZooka-wielding crazy lady, and spend some time exploring this new place. After a while you might find it’s not so scary. You might find it to be a better and more beautiful place than that old, comfortable one. You might even realize that in this new and improved place, you’ve also become a new and improved you.