Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Stop. Look. Listen

A friend of mine emailed this to me this morning. It is worth sharing.

Interesting story and a reminder to slow down and appreciate the beauty around us!

Violinist in the Metro

-from The Effective Club

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 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousand 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 in the till and without stopping 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 3 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 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. 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 dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theatre in Boston and 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 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?


Linds said...

Wow. Just think what we could be missing. Thanks for this!

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

Wow! What a post! Don't we all hope we'd be the one to stop & listen. I'd like to think I would. Of course, I'd most likely not be in a hurry and it would be so out of the ordinary for me to hear this music (since there are no subways where I live) that I'd stop for a listen.

I'd be out for a cultural experience in someone else's city and would take notice; but what if were in my own town? Would I be on my way to the grocery, to the post office, or rushing to make a golf date? Would I stop to listen?

It really makes one stop to think about how much we are missing. I have a little story to tell about this evening... think I'll put it on my blog. Check it out.

Andrea said...

I found this to be a cool story, for sure! I used to see people playing in the subway when I was in Boston and thought it was interesting because I was from Northern Maine and you just don't see that there. I remember noticing that people don't pay any attention...There's a lot of stuff out there we ignore, either consciously or unconsciously.
you definitely have to get out of your comfort zone to appreciate something like that. If it's what you see everyday, maybe you would start to just walk on. I don't know.

Mary said...

Every time I go and sit on a bench near the beach while the sun is setting, or, when I walk through the Forrest,or, when I stand beneath a waterfall I always end up being absolutely flabbergasted that I continually forget to recognize the beautiful things around me. Rush here,rush there, or, sitting at home surfing the T.V stations so I do not miss my favourite show. Shame on us all really. This story is a great reminder for me to walk through the day with my eyes, ears and heart open.

Thanks for sharing.

Renee said...

Isn't it Ghandi that stated 'There is more to life than increasing its speed.'

Thank you for your comments. xoxo

Love Renee

Natalie said...

That was a powerful post.I believe I would have slowed ,or at least cocked my ear. My two year old would certainly have wanted to listen!

Thankyou for visiting my madness, it was lovely to have you.
Btw, Happy Birthday!

karen said...

hi and thanks for visiting my blog!

A lovely story about the violinist... an interesting comment on our rush-rush-busy lives in this day and age!

Happy birthday, and i enjoyed the sixty seven (i must admit, i did not count!!) word poem...

janis said...

Oh my Goodness. Another Blogger buddy posted about this last week. This story is so powerful and this just shows how many people it has touched. The other blogger is from Texas. Look how many people you have touched with posting it on your blog!
We do need to slow down, pay attention and enjoy what life is giving us right before our eyes (& ears).
Thank you so much for posting this. I love this story and the powerful message that it comes with.

lakeviewer said...

HI Everyone who commented:
Linds, Cheryl, Andrea, Renee, Mary, Natalie, Karen and Janis,

all of you have made my week. And thanks to Weld, a local friend who sent me this email.

Today I will share the post with a group of 5th graders, asking them to think and comment. Doesn't it deserve a sharing?

You are all welcome to pass it on. I'm sure the author will not mind.

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