Coulda Been A Contenda

A lot of us in prison have a skill that we love to perform or goal that we’d love to pursue. However, because we naively chose to give up our freedom, we can only partially do these things, if at all. Of course, society is ten times more competitive than prison, so being even the best at something in here doesn’t mean we’ll find success at it after release. For those of us in prison, though, not having achieved our dreams isn’t the real problem; not being able to at least find out if we can fulfill them is. “It is a hard thing to be haunted by the ghost of an untrue dream.” (W.E.B. DuBois).

To be prevented from pursuing our passions is painful. It’s like having a bird trapped inside our chests that tries to peck and scratch its way out everyday. We try to engage in distractions and convince ourselves that the opportunity will still exist when we get out – but the creature never stops. This is especially true for those of us who have no doubt that, if given the chance, we’d succeed at what we want to do. For us, the unexpressed passion becomes a poison that eats away at our spirit almost hourly. This is painful not only because it yearns to be let out, but because we know that we may have in fact missed our opportunity.

Many of us wasted years and decades of our intelligence on easy money, sexual conquests, and social status; then incarceration reminded us of our dreams and pointed us to our “callings”. Yet, no matter how seriously we come to approach our rediscovered or newfound goals, in our minds almost always exists the fear that we’ll be too old, we’ve burned too many bridges or we’re too infected by negative thoughts, behaviors, or substances to find success.

The average inmate only spends a couple of years in prison. Those of us in this category generally haven’t lost the chance to act on our passions. We’re at a crucial point: either take advantage of our freedom and gifts or suffer the torture of starved ambition and oppressed potential. The world is full of people fighting for what we want or have and they’re just hoping that we’ll give it up to live in a bathroom and stand for count several times a day (prison).

Never give them that satisfaction. Keep boxing temptation.

EXTRA: Despite recent unemployment problems in the U.S., the amount of manufacturing jobs has risen. Many manufacturers are having trouble finding and keeping qualified workers for good paying jobs. As a result, an increasing number of companies are paying for potential employees to be trained so they can fill various job openings. These companies are training and hiring felons and they often offer individuals the opportunity to move away from the negative environments that they would otherwise have to return to after release. Check out or for manufacturing jobs in your area; or if you don’t have access to the Internet, contact a librarian.