This is my birthday portrait. This year on the 19th of April I turned 28. The inspiration for this image came from my grandmother; when I was little my grandmother had a beautiful calligraphic script of the poem Desiderata (Latin: desired things) by Max Ehrmann 1927 on her wall:
Go placidly amid the noise and 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.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden 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 labors 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. Be careful. Strive to be happy.
The line of this poem that struck me even as a child in the most profound way is: “gracefully surrendering the things of youth”. What does this mean in our changing times? I have been all too willing in my own life time to surrender my things of youth and be a proper “grown up”. My birthday portrait is based on this; is it time to retire my things of youth? Is it time to retire my big black boots, my concert t-shirts and my short shorts? When are we really grown up? When is it time to surrender ourselves to time?