When I arrive at the park Taiga’s cheeks are red and he’s breathless but happy. He has his own agenda today and has been playing football for the last two hours with his schoolmates, proudly announcing he did 21 kickups, using both feet. A few months ago he was regularly in the late 30s/early 40s but his stats dipped a bit recently (as is totally natural). So these are good stats! and it makes sense as today he’s doing it for fun and his mind and body are free. All the football tuition he’s receiving here is absolutely first class and I’m so grateful but there’s that secret balance isn’t there… passion vs. perfection.

Process vs. perfection
Dream vs. diligence
Technique vs. Talent
He seems settled here at the park so I saunter off for a coffee. As I cross the main road I cross paths with a lady with an electric blue bob cut that perfectly frames a weathered, worn face full of wonder. She’s in her late 70s, a floor length mauve woollen winter coat, and huge cricket lawn green tote bag flung over her arm, she flags down a taxi with an urgency that I could light a match off.
I pick up a take out de caf coffee and it warms my hands as I walk back to the park. I miss the buzz of real coffee and wish I could go there, but I simply cannot sleep these days, it has a much bigger impact on me than it used to. Or perhaps I just notice it more, I’m not sure. Anyway, life’s too short for surface level sleeping, I need to dive deeply into the night, submerge myself in my subconscious, escape this ordered bento box of an existence and the to do lists of the everyday. It’s there that I write most freely, and a different voice emerges. A voice I don’t recognize in the daytime, I don’t have his number, he’s not in my contacts lists. But I like him, or her, they have a lot to say and I want to record it. That’s what I’m doing with this work in progress album “Only Love”
Back at the park, two brothers have matching necklaces, pale blue Mickey Mouse shirts and bowl (think the Beatles) haircuts. The elder one swings a skipping rope above his head and perilously close to his younger brother’s head, to which their grandma screams “ta da Mai!”
We play until it gets dark and all the other kids go home for their tea. Then it begins, a 20 minute period that has become a highlight of week out here. Every Wednesday he goes to a Tennis class at 6pm and whilst he enjoys catching the bus on his own and (at the moment) he still lets me wait with him for it to arrive. The sun goes down around 5pm and this signals the beginning of the end of the park play session as his friends heed the call of their tummies and head home. By 5:23 it’s just the two of us, swinging together in the dimly lit park. A rare bit of space and I relish how comfortable it feels, to just share a space with him without any agenda, nothing to do but wait.
I drag my trainers on the gravel and slow my swing to a standstill so I can just sit and watch him as he kicks his legs and lurches his upper body forwards, gathering momentum and swimming through air.
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