A Poem for a Way of Life (Or A New Year) .. …

Brighton Beach Lovers
Brighton Beach Lovers © Stewart Weir 2002

“Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love – for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment is it perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you from misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.”

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata: A Poem for a Way of Life

Story behind the image – The Swimming Fisherman

His grandfather founded the Brighton Swimming Club 150 years ago and David Sawyer now aged 70 still swims every day during the summer months and as much as he can during the winter. He suffers from arthritis and has to use ‘fins’, but can still swim from the Brighton Marina to the Brighton Pier and back, a distance of three or four miles. He sometimes fishes as he swims, carrying a bamboo cane with a line and tackle and tucking his catch – usually mackerel – into a bag around his neck. He says: “By braving the waves and exerting mind over matter, you are demonstrating your qualities as a person.”

I had known David for some time. Often bumping into each other outside the Brighton Swimming Club whilst I walked in circles producing my Brighton Beach Lovers series. I had taken a few portraits but was never really satisfied as I never felt I showed the real David and his amazing personality and single minded devotion to swimming. I borrowed a friends Kayak and headed out to near the end of the Pier and shot 6 rolls of  Kodak Tri X in a 6x9cm fim back on a Polaroid 600SE Rangefinder Camera. The following image is a scan from one of the straight portraits I shot a previous day.