Waking from a vivid dream, the sage finds himself lost between worlds of possibility and ultimately transformed. Zhuangzi’s famous butterfly story may seem familiar, but the text-linguistic structures of its broader interpretive context are little discussed and poorly understood. In this paper I argue that the Qíwùlùn 齊物論 chapter, like so many other ancient writings, is composed in a concentric, chiastic pattern, with sections in each half mirroring each other throughout, while the central sections provide a pivotal peak and interpretive key that radiate meaning back out to the margins. To quote Mary Douglas, “the meaning is in the middle.” The middle is also the place of Peircean Thirdness. In this paper I map the chapter’s text-level chiastic structures and trace its intimations of Peircean semiotic pragmatism. The core rings of the text endorse contrite fallibilism while also prefiguring triadic structure, the pragmatic maxim, and the continuity thesis. Referencing cultural and historical contexts plus recent scholarship on Zhuangzi and Peirce, I ultimately argue that this ancient text, like the pragmatist semiotic it foreshadows, can be better appreciated and applied by embracing the interplay of centers and margins, discarding debilitating ideologies, and waking up to new degrees of freedom.