06/08/2012 06:29 pm ET Updated Aug 08, 2012

On Creativity Again: Feeling Locked Out/Locked In

The subway door closed.
I couldn't get out to join my mother to make the change to the express train.
I was 5. I was locked in. I was locked out. She was locked out too.

My newly-married children had an argument about washing out plastic bags for recycling. I watched, stood by, felt locked out.

My son published an op-ed piece in the New York Times and "forgot" to let me know.
I felt locked out.

I lock in to my camera when we go off together.

I lock in to my grandson -- when he attentively watches my lips move to learn how to say "HELP."

Our journey is a dialectic between being locked out and locked in.
I belong.
I do not belong.

I say to music students "You know you are in tune when you cannot hear yourself play," and that feels to me like they might have a locked-in experience.

In moments of losing self-awareness, separateness, self-consciousness -- the fusion, merger, exquisiteness of being locked in -- is bliss.

Locked out is not so comfortable: scary on the subway, painful in my helplessness when my children are hurting, deserted when someone I love stays away too long.

Over the years, with the inevitability of feeling locked out at times, I try to make the isolation an opportunity to get to know myself better, from outside to inside and back again -- wrestling to achieve balance and equilibrium.

Back to: Who am I?
Am I OK?
With or without this, am I OK?

Let's begin slowly to rebuild from ground up.
Go back to being locked in with myself.
From there I can create.
Or fall apart, I suppose.

Locked out could lead to something new.
Locked in comes and goes.

Locked out?
Go inside!

Locked out?
Feel it!

Locked out
could just
jolt creativity.

For more by Ruth Neubauer, click here.

For more on poetry, click here.