However, there is also a lot to be said for swans. The quirky misfit has his place, but so do creatures of extraordinary beauty. American Pharaoh literally brought tears in my eyes when he crossed the finish line to claim his Triple Crown. Those tears reappeared when I watched the replays the following day. You just have to look at him to know why.
While you're at it, don't just look the horse. Look at his jockey, Victor Espinoza. It's obvious that he knows what an extraordinary privilege it is to know this amazing animal inside and out. These two are so good together that we forget the Triple Crown had become all but impossible to win – I wasn't even ten the last time it happened! What a gift to sit in wonder as that bounding, exuberant stride carried them to victory.
What's more, jaw-dropping beauty doesn't just happen when the whole world is watching. Sometimes it appears in a small-town theater, when a girl who has always wanted to fly floats across the stage.
This is my fifteen-year-old daughter dancing. She is the one closest to the camera, bound to earth by a mere square of pink satin, fingers stretching to the sky. At three, she stood on a railing wearing fairy wings, fully intending to fly. At four, she found a book on ballet and proclaimed, "I want to do this" as she pointed to a picture of a ballerina en pointe. She has been dancing, and flying, ever since. When she does, it's like getting a glimpse of the perfect oneness of creation. Her spirit, the same that animates American Pharaoh and Victor Espinoza, both defies and fuels imagination. Before you say my comparison is crazy, remember that an artist named Degas saw it too...
I will always root for the ugly duckling, and I will always be blown away by the swan. Most of all, I will cherish the gift of all beautiful creatures, whatever form their beauty may assume.