Sunday, January 4, 2009

What We Are Missing In A Rush

I received this forwarded e-mail from my friend, Rolly.  A beautiful reminder for us to stop and try to enjoy beauty even in the most ordinary of places:

A man sat at a metro station in Washington, DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning.  He played six Bach pieces for about forty-five minutes.  During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing.  He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money into the till without stopping and continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again.  Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a three year old boy.  His mother tagged him along, hurried, but the kid stopped to look at the violinist.  Finally, the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time.  This action was repeated by several other children.  All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the forty-five minutes the musician played, only six people and stayed for a while.  About twenty gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace.  He collected $32.  When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it.  No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world.  He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth $3.5 million.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out a concert in Boston where the seats cost an average of $100.

This is a real story.  Joshua Bell playing incognition in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people.  The outlines were:  in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty?  Do we stop to appreciate it?  Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:  If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

A commentary on what people, the world, we, have become?  Indeed.

How many things have we missed and are still missing?

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