When I was about fourteen years of age I had a number of ambitions. One of the strongest was to be a writer – not only a writer, but a poet. Needless to say, this ambition was not one that was encouraged by my family. About that time there did occur something that gave me some cause for hope. I heard of a national contest being held for the writing of poems by school students. I determined to enter that contest. I remember laboring at the desk in my room, trying to write something meaningful, something inspirational, something profound. I tried very hard, but each effort I made ended in frustration and disappointment. Nothing I wrote was, in my estimation, good enough. The deadline for the contest drew closer and then, finally, passed. I never sent in an entry.
Recently I heard on the news about a person who, at age fourteen, decided that he wanted to be a poet. He persevered at that ambition. His name is Donald Hall and he achieved the status of Poet Laureate of the United States.
This is not to say that had I entered the poetry contest at age fourteen, I would have gone on to achieve the success of Donald Hall. But how often in our lives do we, through acquiescence to the pressure of society and our own uncertainties, manage to defeat ourselves?