One perennial human obstacle to virtue, Aristotle observes, is that most of us think rather less of ourselves than we ought – a surprising sentiment to hear from the otherwise solidly self-loving pagan world. For if the pagans can’t appreciate themselves, how on earth will we? We are capable of more than we give ourselves credit for, he says, and when we decide with much grinding of soul to stand aside from the sorts of projects and honors we are more than capable of carrying off, we are, as he puts it, small-souled. Of course, people who overestimate what they can do or have done are vain. But there are those who are capable of great things and know it, and it would be wiser of humanity, flirting not so much with proper humility but with self-humiliation, to aim toward something more like this state of greatness, toward largeness, toward expansiveness of being. To do so is to have megalopsychia – to have, literally, a large soul.
Now, who ever ran across a person more capable of great things, and who knew this capability, than Dolly Parton? Here is goodness that one could never accuse of being pedestrian. Her very hair is explicable on these grounds. Larger than life, it announces her before she arrives, and signals that someone has at last understood the proper task of the human, to reach out with all our hearts toward the divine in the ways that we humanly can.