Sunday, May 22, 2011

Taking Time Out To Appreciate Beauty

Taking the easy way out today...too much going on. I had a blog post in mind but neither the time nor energy to write it...feeling kinda funky hormonally today...either that or it's allergies. Got this in an email from a faith sharing friend, and it's a message we all could benefit from...

In Washington, DC, at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, this man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After about 3 minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule.

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

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

At 10 minutes: A 3-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time. This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent - without exception – forced their children to move on quickly.

At 45 minutes: The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

After 1 hour: He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed and no one applauded. There was no recognition at all.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest 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 each to sit and listen to him play the same music

This is a true story. Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the D.C. Metro Station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste, and people's priorities.

This experiment raised several questions:

*In a common-place environment, at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?

*If so, 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 ever made ...

How many other things are we missing as we rush through life?

Enjoy life never know when things will change.


Celia Yeary said...

Wow. I hardly know what to say. When I first saw the photo, I noticed the thick tendons down his neck, a sign of extreme overuse--a professional, life-long violinist. Yep, that's what I saw. When I read your post, I nodded. Doesn't surprise me he's good...but world-renowned? Would never have guessed that.
I understand your question but do not know how to answer it. So, I'm still thinking.
Everything I see and hear on a daily basis is commonplace in my life.
But this morning, our church choir--who are extremely good--sang a common song, but with such feeling, I almost came to tears. I heard my husband shudder a breath, which meant he was close to tears. I looked around. Barely anyone was really paying attention--was I and my dh the only one who heard the deep emotion in the hymn they sang? I saw one older man nod, and that was about it.
But I love music, good music, so it didn't suprise me few worshipers really heard angels singing.

Mona Risk said...

I don't have a good ear for music and would have thrown my dollar and kept on going. Yet I take the time to admire beautiful flowers and especially the ocean view. So I think it has a lot to do with people's taste.

Maggie Toussaint said...

I remember hearing this story before. I would love that think that I would have been enchanted by the music and stopped, but the truth is, I always seem to be in a hurry to get somewhere.

As a social experiment, I think we flunked big time on this one.


StephB said...

Liana, that's amazing. I don't think anyone who passed him by that day would have thought of him as a world talent. It's amazing how we don't stop and just appreciate the beauty around us. We're all in such a rush. Not quite sure what I would have done. I might have listened if I had Andrew with me but if I had Joe I might have walked on.


LK Hunsaker said...

Liana, I've read this before and have to be amazed so many would ignore such incredible music. I've stopped to listen to street musicians. What's better than that unexpected beauty right there before you to enjoy freely? But then, I also sit at my window and study my birds and trees when I'm "supposed to be" writing. ;-)