There exists that place we look to when entangled in long, deep thoughts. We don’t need to focus our eyes when looking to this place, because what we’re really looking for is beyond our gaze; what we’re seeing isn’t nearly as important as the act of looking. It’s this place, this middle distance, where we reside during those interregnums when we’re helpless to do nothing other than look, and wait, and think. The middle distance is always before us, but only announces itself at certain places: hospitals, courthouses, bedroom windows, vans during long family trips. If you’re like me and you tend to reside within your thoughts for too long, the middle distance is a hideaway, a place that allows what’s inside you to course freely and enables you to become detached from the immediate and physical surrounding you.
I reside in the middle distance frequently, but some times have stood out more than others. I lost myself in a gaze during the drive to the airport on the way to my grandmother’s funeral. My many trips up and down and across this country were spent almost entirely within the middle distance. And it became very sharp and up close while I waited on a bench at the Cuyahoga County Courthouse on the angrily cold January morning of my divorce.
Some of the most arresting images from “Little Miss Sunshine” are the scenes when the ensemble is in the VW van, each character’s eyes gazing into that haze. Somewhere beyond the middle distance might lie relief to the emotional burdens that weigh down the
I could create a long checklist of elements in “
The middle distance and the concentrated self that is encountered there is proof that there’s something in each of us that can’t be completely revealed to the outside world. And, to some of us, the allure of the middle distance threatens to permanently envelop and arrest us, creating withdrawn figures who shuffle on through the outside world but don’t truly exist in it. The joyous revelation of “Little Miss Sunshine” is when the