Sunday, January 11, 2009

What are we missing?

Since a friend sent this to me across the internet, some of you may well have already heard the story, but, I who most often deletes a "forward" no matter WHO it comes from decided to open this one - here it is for you.....skip it or enjoy it:) I have a few of my own comments at the end......

A cold January morning, a man stood at a metro station in Washington, DC and started to play his violin. He played six Bach pieces - about 45 minutes. It was rush hour, with thousands of it people streaming through the station, most on their way to work. Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed the musician playing. The man slowed his pace, stopped for a few seconds, then hurried off to keep his schedule. A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip from a woman who never stopped but just threw money into the opened case. Minutes later, someone leaned against the wall, listened, then looked at his watch and walked off hurriedly, clearly late for work.

The most attentative pedestrian was a 3 year old boy. His mother, preoccupied, tried to drag the boy away but the kid stopped to look back at the violinist. With the mother insisting, the child reluctantly started to move, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children and, without exception, the parents, forced the children to move on.

During the 45 minute performance, 6 people stopped and actually lingered for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed. No one applauded, nor offered any recognition.

No one knew the violinist was Joshua Bell, a world renowned musician. He played extraordinarily intricate pieces on a violin worth 3.5 million dollars. Two days prior to the subway, Mr. Bell sold out at a Boston theater with admission seats averaging $100.

Organized by the Washington Post, Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was 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?

I have reworked this story a little to shorten and clean up the grammatical errors - it's hard for me to believe that an actual reporter wrote the story as the phrasing and descriptions in it were somewhat awkward. I thought the story might even have been a new "urban legend" - a folk tale to relay a point, but looking up Mr. Bell on the internet, indeed this performance was actual. But whether true or a tale, it does make the point with questions regarding beauty, appreciation, recognition, and how much of this life is filled with beauty that we are too busy to notice?

My thought for you today is this - it's Sunday, there must be something beautiful in your life today no matter your surrounding circumstances, your faith, your vision for what's supposed to be happening today - don't miss out on that beauty because it's out of context or because you're too busy OR too idle to see it. Happy Sunday!


  1. Anonymous5:43 AM

    An absolutely beautiful post. Whether true or false what a wonderful reminder of the old adage to take the time to 'stop and smell the roses'.

  2. I LOVED this post!!! That's what schools are missing, music!!! Children, we need to listen to our children and our inner child more often! Yeah! Go ahead and jump in that mud puddle! I'm 58 and I need to be reminded of this sometimes, sometimes, though, I'm just downright embarassing to my children! LOL I'll be googleing Joshua UP! Thanks! and what did I read about Bach, listening to this as YOU create really opens YOU up!

  3. Hi Diff - thanks for the comment. Yes, "stop and smell" is a powerful suggestion:)

    Turq cro - do I recognize your little face from Misty Mawn's journal challenge? I'm going to look you up right now!

    Thanks again to you both from stopping by!

  4. coming from a link at SIStv...
    What strikes me most is that it was the children who would stop to listen but the adults were caught up in their own plans so much that they didn't take the time to "stop and smell the roses". Interesting read.

  5. About January 3, I began an exercise recommended by Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen. The exercise has been used successfully by some folk suffering from "burnout."

    At the end of each day, look for experiences that: 1) surprised you; 2) touched you; 3) inspired you. Some people have been able to find the experiences by looking back. As they practice looking, they may be able to experience them in the moment.

    It is a challenge for me, but I do recognize the challenge and potential for renewal.

    You story shows how people "of maturity" have lost the wonder available in life. It is often systematically drilled out of us. I find myself well trained. Perhaps I, and other people you touch, can learn to rediscover wonder.


  6. I loved this post. I do try to stop and be aware of my surroundings and the people around me but in this fast paced world, it isn't easy.....

    Today was Henry's birthday party. I am not a fan of birthday parties but tried to watch, listen and be patient as 11 little munchkins had the time of their life.

  7. You make an important point, even if the story weren't true, but it is. Washington Post won a Pulitzer prize in April of 2007 for the story written by Gene Weingartner. Snopes has a nice article about the experiment.