C3 Creative Writing, 10-4-17 [Shut in, Shut out, Shut down, Shut up!]
by Keith Laidler
The opposite of shut is open,                                                                                                             A truth there’s no denying.                                                                                                                   So, ‘mouth,’ when you are shut ‘up’                                                                                                   there’s little chance for lying.

Shutting down has many options,                                                                                              some as simple as flipping a switch.                                                                                             But if a person’s body shuts down,                                                                                                  it goes stock still with nary a twitch.

The baseball term that signals no hits,                                                                                    describes a winning pitcher.                                                                                                          Not only does he win the game                                                                                                            but his ‘shut out’ will make him richer.

The ‘shut in’ term has me scratching my head.                                                                    Throughout my career I have visited people                                                                            who were stuck in their homes with all kinds of conditions.                                                        They want to get out but find they’re too feeble.

There’s more shutting in that we do to ourselves.                                                                    Take feelings, opinions and withholding wishes.                                                              Examples of these would be easy to find,                                                                                    like secrets and slip ups we’ve kept from the missus.
What others would think “if they really knew”                                                                          can bind one with fear, I’m sure we relate,                                                                                  So, since ‘shutting in’ is so bad for our health,                                                                                        Get with it, be open, before it’s too late.


Believing and Belonging

When I was young and full of questions,                                                                                            I would often get suggestions                                                                                                              from my siblings and my mother.                                                                                                      On occasion I’d discover                                                                                                                        a voice within me soft and low                                                                                                            giving guidance then I’d know                                                                                                            I could manage my own way.                                                                                                             That solution was okay.                                                                                                                         So I began believing in                                                                                                                         the voice inside me as my friend.                                                                                                       We would talk and get acquainted.                                                                                                    I was happy that I waited,                                                                                                                    for this knowledge that was shared                                                                                                  brought me such courage that I dared                                                                                              to believe in my resources                                                                                                                  when someone says, “Now hold your horses.”                                                                                I took ‘debate’ attending college,                                                                                                        but came away with little knowledge                                                                                                on how to face an adversary…                                                                                                              that was for me a little scary.                                                                                                              To argue doesn’t hold appeal                                                                                                              feels like I’m not being real.                                                                                                                  It’s so unsettling when it’s done                                                                                                          and truth be told, it isn’t fun.                                                                                                                Now dialoging is, for instance                                                                                                            more productive, less resistance.                                                                                                        To focus less on the grammatical                                                                                                        will reveal where we’re compatible.                                                                                                  The real importance, don’t you see,                                                                                                    is the belief that we can be                                                                                                                  the ultra ‘version’ of our self                                                                                                                instead of hiding on some shelf.                                                                                                          We get to feel, among the clatter,                                                                                                        that we belong and that we matter!!!

My Political Depression and Grief

MAY 1st of 2017, C3 Creative Writing Class          [prompt:  “When….”]

My Political Depression and Grief                                                                       by Keith Laidler

WHEN Donald Trump announced his candidacy for President of the United States I had a good laugh.  My wife and I verbalized our impressions and expressed our dismay to each other about a Trump presidency.  We felt that surely this would be taken as a joke by the American people.  Donald Trump’s reputation was shaped by firing people on his TV reality show.  With so many highly qualified democratic hats in the ring there was just no way…. !  In other words we felt sure our Party would retain the White House.

As 2016 progressed I realized I was paying more than usual attention to the many annoying ‘in your face’ political ads.  I noticed my reaction changing.  One evening while a particular accusatory and nasty ad was on TV my body sent a message to my brain.  It wasn’t in words….It took in a deep breath and slowly let out a heavy sigh.  My brain had it labeled before it was halfway out.  It was discouragement with a hovering sense of depression.  My imagination went right to work and the ‘picture’ I had of my country started morphing.  Recent exchanges with good friends, some of whom were strong and vocal supporters of Trump, spread across my dilemma.  So, instead of lightly thinking, ‘What is this country coming to?’ I thought in despair, ‘I don’t really know this country.’  It felt like my country now had the possibility of becoming a stranger to me.

We talk about ‘loving our neighbor’ as prescribed (commanded even) in the Christian faith.  The root word for ‘love’ in this command is ‘agape.’  It’s the word used by the writer of the Gospel of John in chapter 3, verse 16, “God so ‘loved’ the world…”   Well, the truth for me was, ‘How can I love those who are being so publicly and blatantly un-likable to say nothing of unlovable?’

Struggling with these issues led to a personal political depression.  For weeks there were days that my meditation times were unproductive.  It felt like I was grieving a significant loss and was unsure how to deal with it.  I wasn’t giving up though.  I sought for under-standing.  If I could see how I was letting it get to me I could build a wall against it.  Even as I write about it now, my stomach is pulling into little knots remembering those dark days and weeks.

Then one day, during a deeper than usual period of meditating, a light broke through.  It was like when a dark cloud moves past the sun and there is light everywhere.  The chill that coursed through me was followed by a ‘warm blanket’ feeling.  Suddenly I knew what had just happened.  Forgiveness.  Forgiveness that is ‘real’ wipes out the offense and the hurt completely.  The guilt in me from wishing bad things on those who were bashing the character of good, loyal and upright citizens was gone.  A transformation had taken place within me.   A deal had been sealed.  It took the form of first forgiving my-self and then truly forgiving those whose words and behavior I had allowed to play on the fears inside me.  I’d let their words, their strategies, even their facial expressions, play upon my doubts, suspicions, and fears.  My reaction had triggered the anger and distrust I felt for them.  I fed it with scenarios of ‘the worst that could happen?’  Then it was like I’d taken a wide brush, dipped it deep into the roiling pot and with it changed the color of my world.  It was like a miracle was taking place within me.  I’d struck the gold of who I really was (Who I AM!) and gave myself permission to be that person.  I am able to ‘agape’ (love) those ‘others’ I really differ with (and don’t even ‘like!’)

So, are there things we can’t do anything about?  Indeed there are.  But, there is also wisdom, insight and courage waiting within us.  Learning to connect with those gifts, and then acting on what we learned, brings new life and meaning to us and may even give a blessing or two to others.  I recommend it.