Matthew Munson: Following our passions and stretching our minds

Matthew and Bryan

I am most certainly not a dancer; I’m barely coordinated whilst walking down the street, so it’s hard to imagine me giving dance moves a go. My son, however, is a natural-born mover; he loves dancing in all its forms, and I’m keen to encourage him. He goes to four dance classes a week right now, which he is proud to talk about – including ballet, which he was really keen to trial, and now he loves it as much as the others.

I love that he’s passionate about it; there’s a dance show coming up in July which he is deep in rehearsals for, so I spend a lot of time waiting for him. I don’t mind, as he’s thoroughly enjoying himself, and I hear a lot about his excitement for the show – which, as a dad, makes me very happy to hear.

I love hearing people talk about their interests and passions; whether they’re seen as geeky or any other description, we should encourage an interest in something that engages a person’s brain. Neither Bryan nor I are really interested in gaming, and I’m a bit lost when people describe the complexities of a game, but I’m still fascinated by their fascination.

Fiction (reading it and writing it) has been a passion of mine for years; my dad was a journalist and, for a brief time, I considered that path myself. But then I realised how much hard work there was in journalism – when done right, I guess – and I realised that writing fiction didn’t feel like hard work, even though there was a lot to it. Being creative engages my brain, and I genuinely love how things inspire me – except when I get an utter block. I’ve been working on a new novel for a little while, but really struggling with it; it was hard to admit that I wasn’t really enjoying it – and, I had to accept, if I wasn’t enjoying it, then that could easily show in my writing and ensure that an audience became equally as bored with what I’d put on the page.

I shared that with Bryan, because I wanted him to realise that – sometimes – it’s okay to take a break from something you love, if you’re struggling with a particular part of it. As it happened, when I stopped, I felt far more excited about a related writing project that had been on the back burner for a while – and off I went, far more inspired than I have been for a while. It’s rewarding to get that kind of challenge in my head.

While Bryan works on his dance show, I have an important decision to make; I’ve made a firm decision to go back to university, and even narrowed it down to a final two choices. But I can’t yet make a choice between them; one degree would benefit my writing career, whilst the other would benefit a different role I have. Both could fit into my life with similar teaching and homework hours, so it’s down to which direction I want to take with my learning.

I have an open day to go to in mid-June, and I’ll need to make a final decision pretty soon after that. Bryan has asked to come along to the open day, which I would love; he knows that there’s some meetings and talks I want to go to, but he’s good at keeping himself busy – and, I suspect, he’s keen to take a look at the dance degree they run at the university. He’s 12, so there’s a few years before he has to make a decision about all of that, but if he’s keen to keep me company on the day, the least I can do is give him the chance to see something he’s interested in.

I never imagined I’d be going back to university in my 40s, but if I can make it work, then I’d love to do it. I want to do this for me – something to stretch my brain in a different way than how parenting stretches it. But first, I’ve got to make that final decision … watch this space.