Nina Simone and virtue

Are you a Nina Simone fan? If not (or even if you are) I have to urge you to listen to her song, “The Other Woman.”

It is heartbreak, breath-take, and surprise all wrapped in a poem of piano and lyrical delivery. Here:

I started thinking about this song as I contemplated the idea of virtue. Note: if you didn’t just listen to the song in its entirety a few times, this won’t make much sense. (It might not make sense anyway.)

Here is how it started. I went food shopping the other day and filled my cart near to brim with green vegetables. I needed them, don’t get me wrong, but I also felt very “good” buying these things. I felt virtuous.

And I thought about how I might seem to others. Nowhere near perfect, I’m sure, as the woman “Who finds time to manicure her nails.” But certainly something of a virtuous ideal: e.g., that my recipes are full of veggies and I’m always totally prepared.

And then the week happened. And we’ve been taking a few shortcuts this week (eating out; going for pre-made meals), because the truth is, I have a lot on my mind and I haven’t felt like cooking. So now that virtue is turning into something else.

In fact, the only virtue I’d consistently give myself is a willingness to charge through, even when I’m unsure of my skill. And while I fully recognize my skill may be lacking, I’m confident of my creativity and I’m confident of ability to roll with an idea and see if I can make it better.

Something will happen. It might not be magic every time. It might never be Nina Simone. Then again, there isn’t enough Nina Simone in the world anyway.

Seriously, who else could possibly end a song with a lick of “Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush,” and have it feel like the only possible outcome?

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