Passion: Mother & Child


Detail from ‘Mother & Child’ by Pablo Picasso
 A passion for the subject. It’s easy to gloss over that statement. Personally, I find it rather trite and unfashionable to profess a passion for anything at all. I love music, friendship, writing and laughter. If I were to wantonly throw my passion around, its value would diminish. Passion spread too thinly is no passion at all.

A passion for my subject. I forever return to that statement. It nags me quietly but insistently like a slightly neglected child. As I tap away at my phone, it stands patiently in the periphery of my vision.

I might spend time reading up on Vygotsky and still the passion stands expectant, unsated. I leaf through a critique of progressive education and my passion for English tugs plaintively at my sleeve, still hungry for attention. Inset follows reflection follows collaboration, observation and intensive study – and still my passion for the written, spoken and read stands by me, eager but ignored.

My passion knows the date of Shakespeare’s birth and death (without Googling it); my passion can recite Thomas Hardy’s ‘The Voice’ verbatim, with due gravity, from memory; my passion cares as deeply as Orwell did about the awful separation of what is said from what is meant. And my passion stands, quietly emaciating, at my side, just waiting for me to turn to him in acknowledgement.

He is the foundation of my practice. More crucial to me than any methodology. And somehow I fail to give him his rightful place. I invest in generalities: delivery, interaction, measurement and analysis. All the while, my passion waits.

Perhaps it is not a child. Perhaps it is a parent. It waits, larger than I am, and eyes me with wry affection. It smiles because it knows that I will return to it, that I secretly depend on its embrace.

When I was tiny, I would absorb myself in play, drooling over mongrel cathedrals of Lego and Playmobil. From time to time I would look up from my absorption and see my mother holding me in silent regard. A direct line, a solid line of light would shoot from the distant past right through us both into the distant future. We would see the same eyes, the nose, the facial mole replicated through countless generations. The same person in different bodies, co-existing in that glance and knowing ourselves to be one another.

I turn to my passion in precisely the same light. The smile returned is open, sweet.

I pick up a book and I read to my children. My passion sits beside me, still: mother and child.


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