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  • This summer, part of my work has included photographing flowers for a botanical garden. (Not a hardship, believe me.)

    Over and over again, I'm drawn to the water lilies -- beauty unleashed, unabashed, unafraid, exploding into the heat, the blooms miniature suns that seem lit from within.

    At first I wanted to call this photo "Vanity," because beauty is often vain, and if you've spent your life with minimal physical beauty the temptation to denigrate any loveliness is strong. But water lilies have no agenda -- no starring role to get, no husband to catch, no impresario to impress. When they look in the mirror of the pool, they're not gloating or grasping for compliments.

    And I realized that finally I could look in the mirror without having to look away quickly. That I could admire my eyes and my smile, could revel in the shine of my hair. That I can -- that we all -- can admire our loveliness without turning it into weaknesses.

    We are all water lilies, here to bloom briefly, dazzle, and then disappear.

    Remember that.
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