Matthew Munson: Passions and challenges

Matthew and Bryan

First things first, a thank you; I had a few lovely messages wishing me a happy birthday last weekend. I’m now 42, since you asked (or even if you didn’t); Bryan takes great pleasure in pointing out just how much grey hair I now have, even with my shaved head. Children see your greatest flaws, don’t they? Anyway, ta very much for being so nice.

I wanted to talk about passions this week – and when I say passions, I mean it in the cleanest possible sense. I made it a vow, when I first became a dad four years ago, that I would help Bryan find his direction in life – even if that direction changed many times throughout his life.

Because that’s important; we sometimes try and tie down one or two interests when we’re in our teens and think we have to stick with them throughout the entirety of our lives. I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I was 18; I didn’t realise “full-time writer” was a profession someone like me could pursue. It seemed like something that happened to “other people”, people who were far more successful and interesting than me. Even when I had my books published, I wasn’t able to move into writing full-time – most writers don’t, of course.

But I also realised that I had other passions as well, which took me time to discover; in my thirties, I discovered marathons (I once did four in a year!) and spent seven years in a job I really enjoyed at three local councils. I then realised – slowly – that I wanted to become a dad, and raising a son is another passion; he’s someone I love with all of my heart, and I’m so fortunate to be in his life.

So I wanted to help Bryan find his passions,; lockdowns got in the way, but it also helped Bryan discover his creative side – he began to see that he was a good storyteller and artist, and could use his imagination to develop his creativity. But when lockdowns ended, and he chose to try a couple of dance classes at a local dance school, his eyes really opened, and that’s when his skills really developed – he is now preparing for a show, which is the subject of many discussions and a lot of hours of practice. From my point of view, as his dad, it’s my job to support him and help him feel more confident to push himself.

He won’t mind me saying that he wants to be a dancer when he’s older. It’s an admirable ambition, and one I hope he achieves; it’s a hard world to get into, but if he’s ambitious, then he should go for it full speed ahead. I’m also teaching him that, if he changes his mind when he’s older, that’s okay too. He doesn’t even necessarily have to change his mind with another ambition to aim towards; he can try different things until he finds the thing he likes.

For me, that’s why I’m starting university this September; I don’t know where it will take me precisely, especially as it’s going to take six years to complete, but when I was 18, I had no idea I’d be a single dad at 42. Life has a funny way of introducing you to interesting twists and turns; one thing sometimes leads to something else without you ever expecting that to be the case. I’m doing this because I’m ambitious for my future. I’m only 42; I want to live to a ripe old age, and to have filled it with a lot of interesting and exciting things. I’ve made mistakes in my life, like we all have – taking jobs that weren’t right, making a choice that you later look back on and thinking, “What the hell was I thinking?” – but I want to embrace the future as well.

I also want my son to see that you’re never too old to adjust your direction in life; what’s the next big challenge in my life? I don’t need one single job in my life to keep me fulfilled; I need to be willing to try new things and take risks every now and then.

1 Comment

  1. Good luck with the course and writing. Bryan can be whatever he wants to be. He just has to put his mind to it and work hard. I wish both him and you all the best in whatever life throws at you.

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