There are several things that recommend the role of appreciator. It's easy to be very busy—at least as busy as one can be striving to be among the appreciated. I've discovered what the smartest men have always known: that women can be lovely in many ways—as many ways, it seems, as there are women. It's easy to be very happy, noticing things to admire rather than looking only for ways to be admired. You know that feeling you get when you see a lush summer garden, abundantly green and fragrant and riotous with blossoms? Does it bother you that you're not as beautiful as it is? No, of course not; it's a garden. Its beauty has nothing to do with you, takes nothing away from yours. In fact, standing in the middle of a flourishing garden, filling your eyes with the deep and impossibly delicate colors, inhaling the odors, sweet and complex, you might feel more beautiful, more precious yourself, marveling at your own ability to perceive it all. That's the way I feel about those women I used to think of as competitors: Their beauty is one more avenue for a rich enjoyment of the world.

But maybe most important as an appreciator, I'm setting my own standards. Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? No, I won't. I won't compare you—or myself—to anything, not the weather, not our mothers, not that gorgeous creature crossing our paths. Because a thing of beauty needs no comparison, only an eye to behold it.

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