Loving My Life as Wife, Mother and Grandmother

Monday, June 15, 2009

Violinist in the Metro

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 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 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 three-year-old boy, His mother hurried him along, 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 six people stopped 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 intricated 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 theater 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 on an almost priceless instrument, how many other things are we missing?

Take time to stop and enjoy the wonders of the everyday happenings in your life.

I don't know how many of you know this, but I play violin...and piano. If I had been there and he was playing I would definately have noticed. I guess because I'm interested on a personal level on that kind of thing. I've always been very observant of everything around me and going on around me. Maybe I would be considered ADD. I wouldn't change that about myself though. I try to bring that out in my children. When I see something beautiful (such as flowers or trees or clouds in the sky) I try to make sure that my kids notice it too..If I catch someone doing something kind, like an elderly couple walking through the store holding hands or a Mother kissing her child...I try to point those out. I guess with all the bad in the world I try even harder to notice the good stuff :) Life is so short and I just want to be able to say I didn't miss a thing!!!


Eileen said...

Oh, Jerelene, you are so much wiser than I.
I just recently have learned to slow down and appreciate the truly finer things in life.
Maybe it's because I was born and raised in New York City, and I worked in Manhattan, and there were street performers on every subway platform and every street corner, and they just became part of the background for me.
The homeless I couldn't pass up without giving them something (either cash, or run in somewhere and buy them something to eat or something warm to wear), but I am guilty of passing many a street performer without stopping to really listen.

Thanks for this post and a lesson learned.

Diana said...

Awwww Jerelene you are so sweet! Pointing out all those nice things to your children, you are such a good mom!
I always did that too. It doesn't work with Katie. At least she doesn't act like it. I get more pleasure out of noticing things with my husband! Probably because we're rarely together, anyway that story was something else. That I would notice as I love classical music. Very interesting experiment!

Blessings each day said...

Jerelene, this was such a special post, something everyone should read...guess who's going to stop and carefully listen to the next street musician? We don't have any here, but there should be some in Atlanta.
When do we get a video of you playing?? I promise to play it over and over!!!

blessings and hugs,