Slice of Life Tuesday - Writing, One of Many Passionate Pursuits

As a child I demonstrated a visible passion for sport. Football, cricket, athletics were my three passions. Little else mattered. I devoted innumerable hours to perfecting my skills in these sporting zones. It was always football in winter; cricket and athletics in summer. The backyard of our house was the setting for my initial efforts. -Sometimes in a shared sense and sometimes on my own. I kicked the football, leapt in the air and marked it, chased it, bounced it –round and round and round the yard. The football and I were almost constantly connected. The onset of darkness at the end of the day was the trigger for calling an end to my pursuit of my sporting dreams. They burned brightly.  Things reached a point when my mother intervened and suggested I move my practice to a more appropriate setting because her flowers were constantly under attack from stray footballs. I was decimating her dahlias.  Cricket was much the same. Bat and ball were equally attended to as I lived out my passion for the summer game. Athletics allowed me to spend time running, jumping, leaping, and throwing to my heart’s content. In fact my entire boyhood was a scene of constant motion.

I held strongly to a vision of playing sport at the elite level from a very early age. I was a boy in a bubble of sporting fantasy. Emulating heroes and performing feats of sporting immortality were happening right there in my head; in our backyard or anywhere else I was in proximity to a ball.  Pretty normal boy stuff really.  In time, my dream fell short of that famed filled sporting future, but the passion for sport has persisted to this day. Its flame burns brightly.

Another passion, lay submerged within me at that time. It was a slow burning passion and it waited patiently for me to notice it. It made itself apparent around the age of eleven when my Grade 6 teacher shared his particular passion for poetry and reading. The flames were thus fanned. It is a passion that has endured to this day. My dad had always loved words and frequently engaged me in discussion, word play and the like. Experiences like this helped me to recognise a passion. A passion,  that for me could sit quite comfortably alongside my sporting passion – a passion for things literate. I fortunately realized such passions are not mutually exclusive.  

I share these thoughts because I frequently encounter boys in schools who see passion as an either or choice. -Sport or the arts, but not both. The culture in which they live frequently gives them such messages. The media stereotypes the male persona as 'blokey' and in need of raw meat pursuits.  Who decides what your passions will be? Who has the right to tell an adolescent boy he can’t gain equal delight from poetry and basketball, painting and football, cricket and sculpture. Hopefully a more rounded adult emerges from such diversely passionate pursuits. I follow my football team with an unbridled passion, just as I pursue my enduring passion for writing. Why should anyone be denied the right to pursue more than one passion? The answer probably lies in societal pressures and some misguided view of manhood. Macho driven and short sighted. 

The reality is that as we age our bodies tell us that while the passion for sport remains, the ability to actively participate slips away – like oil held in the hand. What remains are memories of past deeds and the effects of the accumulated injuries. I’m grateful that reading and writing are not body contact sports. They are passions in which I can actively participate for the rest of my life. They are passions that can go the journey. That suits me fine.

Passion is described in various ways however, in this context I view passion as an intense inner drive. It embodies a feeling of commitment or strong devotion to some activity, object, or concept. I can live with that. My particular passion for reading and writing sustains and comforts me.  I am so grateful for this part of who I have become. I have only just scratched the surface of my passions in this slice. I’ll save the rest for the future.  May you, dear reader, readily find your passion.  Go Tigers!

*Thank you to Adam Torchia for the conversation that launched my thoughts.


  1. This is quite an inspiring post. I do agree that many times boys feel passion is an either or choice and this is such a shame. I have had athletic boys who have loved reading and/or writing but feel that isn't something an athlete should do. I read a book this summer called Athlete vs. Mathlete which addresses this issue. It will be a great read for my boys and will hopefully help them realize they can have more than one passion. Thanks!

    I just came across your blog and I look forward to spending some time reading it...but it looks like one of those that I could be lost in for hours!

  2. What a great connection. I'd like to believe that we all can have many distinct and different passions that contribute to who we are. Your post certainly shows how passions morph and change over time.

  3. Well stated and interesting to read. I could see the action of you practicing your sports passion and almost felt the moment your word passion exploded! I think boys need men to mentor them in the rich variety of pursuits available to them.

  4. Ooh, lots to think about in this post! I love the idea that sports and the arts are NOT mutually exclusive, and I also love how you ended with the bigger concept of finding your passion. Your students are lucky to have you -- boys and girls!

  5. This is thoughtful writing on an important subject. I am very much like you in terms of holding these different passions, along with several others. I think it's very important as a male English teacher to model for young men that there are ways of being that don't fit but at the same time don't entirely reject a narrow, prescribed definition of masculinity. As you say, integration and balance are necessary, and to model that is very powerful. I can chat with the boys about hockey or football before class, and then we discuss Shakespeare or today's poem -- and they see that I'm equally passionate about both. Indeed, I try to work sport metaphors into what we do to help students see the connections in activities that are seemingly disparate (what is a great game of football but a symphony or poem or play -- an engaging narrative?)

    I'm curious about who your football team is? They broadcast AFL games here in Canada on the weekends, and I've been quite taken with the pace and action of the game! Starting to get addicted...

    Thanks for the thoughtful reflection--

  6. I love this reflection, Alan.

    I agree that boys seem to feel that the pursuits are not compatible... either that or they feel that is it okay to admit a passion for sports but not for literacy. I'm thankful that I have many boys in my class who are comfortable admitting to loving sports and READING, but I'm still trying to foster a love for self-expression in many of them.

  7. This reminds me so much of my son, who embodies similar contrasts in his interests and abilities. Thanks for putting words to the thinking that it is OK to be passionate about both of these parts of your life. I will definitely share with him.
    And this line spoke to me: "It was a slow burning passion and it waited patiently for me to notice it."


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