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The Queen Alone

Oil on canvas 

122cm x 92cm, 48" x 36"

Victoria amazonica, named after Queen Victoria of the British Empire, is the most stunning and grandiose lily on earth. Her brilliant leaves can stretch up to 10 feet in diameter, blocking out most sunlight from the water below. As you can imagine, this creates a rather uninhabitable environment for all but the most tenacious flora and fauna who share her pond. Remarkable as they may be, they bloom alone.


Seeing these lilies at the Singapore Botanical Gardens took my breath away with their beauty but their story also gave me pause. Having come from the fiercely competitive and often cutthroat corporate world, I could recognize my former self in the lily’s ambition, the single-minded pursuit of something monumental, at times aiming to shine brighter by dimming the light of others.


With age and experience, we learn this method of self-aggrandizement is not actually productive. Dimming someone else’s light won’t make yours shine any brighter. To quote Zen Shin, “A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms.” (unless, of course, you’re Victoria amazonica!).


I smile contentedly to myself and give a small bow to the floating queens, feeling confident and content in myself, shining brightly among twinkling stars.

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