Somewhere In The Middle

Holly Brians Ragusa
7 min readMar 9, 2021


Photo by manu schwendener on Unsplash

When asking me what size glass of water, milk or wine I desire, my husband realizes his error almost immediately.

Though in the moment, politeness is inquiring, he already knows the answer when assessing the appropriate heft of bread ripped for my meal, the particular glass that will hold my beverage or the adequate fullness of my salad bowl.

Want a big or a little glass? Would you like a large or small portion, he will ask.

Medium. Somewhere in the middle, I will say.

And he smirks knowingly. No matter the question of proportion, medium is always my answer. There is always someone needing more or less than me and I like to remember that.

Middle road is a healthy place to live much of the time especially on questions of whether or not to eat the next donut or whether or not to return rudeness or politely walk away from someone having a bad day. Midpoints are meeting places, and many of us move toward that ripe middle ground when we have facts and information from all sides of a situation. There, we can see why Mary was mad at Susan, and still see that Susan had a point. There we can understand poverty in a circle that has walked with have and have not. There we can own what we don’t know and allow it to inform us. Allow the unknown to get to work listening to others who know better.

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At the weighted middle, nature shows us the way, much like nomadic tribes, migrating Wildebeest or schools of fish, traveling together is where the majority of us are safest. Where most of the herd is helped, where most of the flock find it easier to fly. We can’t all run ahead, and some will inevitably lag behind, but we can work together, we can try to pull everyone in.

There is much to be said for a middle of the road position, it requires more patience and teamwork from the individuals there. It requires acknowledging everyone and not just oneself. As a middle child, I know first hand that we siblings can be important buffers for forces on either side. A neighbor pit between two quarreling houses can often be the ombudsman that helps square up a dispute. King Solomon wouldn’t really have cut the baby.

Today though, even without all the facts, it seems more fashionable to take a side, to rip the baby at the expense of what we value and love. Center is no longer tolerated. Choose a faction. We are reverting back a time when we attended witch burnings and public hangings of others to save our own necks.

Personally I don’t need to lambaste anyone. We all usually show our colors to the world soon enough. But I do feel a need to bring stories closer together. The middle child always knows that both sides have hurts to heal. When hurt is made personal, room is made for understanding if not agreement. Counter to what comforts us, compromise asks us to consider that the other person has as much a right to their point of view and a right to live it, just not at the expense of others. The far right conservative may need to love a child that is LGBTQ+ to feel for those particular issues. The progressive may need to hear that an upbringing of hate and belittlement built the bully and the racist. And in either case, the child may still be cast out of their family.

How large is the problem of world hunger or climate crisis? How small is someone feeling to level hate at another? I tend to save classifications of large or small for more important matters than my meal time. For instance I don’t sit anywhere near middle on matters of humanity. Being humane can’t be out of fashion. I don’t languish in silence or mediocrity against things like hate, ignorance, hunger or racism. Connected, these are places in our collective puzzle where I can directly contribute a piece. And that is not a fringe idea. Contributing back to the whole is, again, nature’s feat. Nature also shows us that we aren’t all made to fit into formation.

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Though more of us are comfortable at the fringes now, than at any time in recent American history, our political systems don’t work well pit against each other. History shows us that. Thickly weeded traps are those far right and left places, it takes cunning and absolutism to stay there. Don’t get me wrong, I visit the fringes, I check in with them and play with their shiny toys. I test their waters, tune to their channel, often finding them too heated for my liking or too frigid for my sensibilities. Some seem to need or even enjoy the constantly charged atmosphere of hate and blame, but know this, collaboration cannot breed there.

Quiet voices whisper to us all about everything from too much snacking, to discomfort in ourselves, fear of others, about anger and giving too little. The whispers inform our ego, pride, and vanity.

Hissing in my ear is the ‘how to guide of Easy’. You can hear the hiss, we all do. Just how easy it would be to simply cast others off, to think less of them, to hate. I’m assured by so many social media responses that to better myself I must demean others. Both the angel and the devil sitting on my shoulder tell me to place blame elsewhere or to only trust myself. And often, those far afield views from the end of my shoulders lead me to the place between them that can better determine my needs. As it must be.

Occasionally we all fall prey to seductive trances or quick fix schemes. I’m no different. Easy sounds good, especially after such a hard year. After a while though, I grow tired of the voices convincing me that I’m completely right or certainly wrong, knowing there is no such destination. Knowing so many need that one and done pill to soothe their ills is hard to swallow. After assessing myself, asking how I want to live and be in the this world, I find the strength to turn away from blame and take some responsibility. Standing a little straighter, I face the walk back to the wide and wandering middle, leaving the far fringes to their stubbornness and destruction.

Medium size works for me. I want to be full enough, while hungry for more. No portion can define my passion. Response is not an apt barometer for emotion. And maybe that is the issue, we have to go so big on our emotions so as to outdo one another. That is exhausting and cannot sustain.

Like Mama Bear in the fairy tale, we are looking for that space where we will feel just right. Most of us want to live there, not to be too challenged in our thinking and just enjoy what we have, in places made specifically for us. As for me, I’m looking for the just, right, response. I live in the middle on many things, especially my slices of cake, but rarely do I remain there on my principles or feelings. Unlike Mama Bear, I can push past comfort to understand why Papa and Baby Bear were also comfortable in their own situations and why Goldilocks who had nowhere else to go, tired and hungry, needed to trespass.

Proportions matter. Feed one of us too much and others will starve. Restraint and appeal, these are teachers I learn from daily. How much to ask for, how much to withhold. I don’t enjoy weighing too much on others shoulders, yet if I don’t ask for help, my own shoulders buckle. As any student, I have to keep studying and apply what I’ve learned.

Maybe the middle child status I acquired at age four is the reason I don’t shy away from the grey in any seemingly black and white scenario. I like options and I think we all might like what we see when we step to the edge for the full panoramic view. On the highway of life, there are many stops and I don’t want to experience only where I just left or only where I plan to be, I would miss so many wonderful sights on the way. So, I’ll keep working my way to the interior. Maybe I will see you there.



Holly Brians Ragusa

Poet-Author-Family Ringleader- Late Bloomer- Advocate for Arts/Ed/History/Kindness #FactOverFiction #HelpHumanityGoViral #AmWriting She/Her