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Monday, July 13, 2009

Something to Think About

**I received this via email this morning. It reflects my current state of mind so I felt like sharing.**

Washington DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approx 2 thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After 3 minutes a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.

4 minutes later: The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the till and, without stopping, continued to walk.

6 minutes: A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

10 minutes:
A 3 year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly, as 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.. Every parent, without exception, forced them to move on.

45 minutes:
The musician played. Only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace.
He collected $32.

1 hour:

He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. 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 dollars. Two days before Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.
This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people's priorities. The questions raised: in a common place environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments .....

How many other things are we missing?


koe said...

S - very thought provoking to be sure. Years before anyone had ever heard of Keith Haring (radiant baby) my wife and I saw him drawing in chalk on the sidewalk in NYC and handing out postcards. . . we watched him draw and thought wow. . . that was amazing. But of course we went on our way. years later, I wish we had dug up the darn sidewalk and brought it home with us. Not for what it would be worth but for the validation that at least for once - we saw and recognized something for it was not for what someone told us it was. Nice posting.

KAT said...

Wow, this really makes you think! We are always in such a rush. We are certainly missing out on so many wonderful and beautiful things.

Funny, how the children all wanted to stop and listen, though isn't it?

Thank you for posting this, it has me thinking....

Take care,
Candles, Crafts and Whatnot

Mom said...

Koe - Wow. How cool to have been able to observe him. Of course, you probably would have been in a great deal of trouble if you had tried to take the sidewalk with you...

Kat - Children often want to stop and listen or stop and explore. Unfortunately, parents are generally too busy to allow their children the pleasure of taking their own time to do as they please. It's a small tragedy in today's society that children are often rushed along to their parents' pace instead of being allowed to live their lives at their own pace. If parents would take more time to live life at the pace of their children, they would be far less stressed.

Buzzing J said...

Or maybe, just maybe, there's a time and place for everything? Especially time?

maggie said...

wow, this got me thinking - how many did I already missed *sigh*?

katherine said...

Oh what a nice story...i don't know Joshua Bell but we also have a well known celebrity who did an experiment like that too but not playing violin. He was wearing clown costume and made a tricks and children will stop and wanted to watch him but the mother or nanny were on a hurry. Thanks for sharing this, at least, you reminded me to let the kids have their time too.