Tuesday, January 13, 2009


In my last post I wrote about finding joy and that the personal mantra I try to live my life by is "Above All, Know Joy". My in-laws sent me the following story and after reading it, I wondered what I would have done. Would I have recognized the magic of the moment, allowed myself to enjoy it or would I have kept on walking? Read it, think about it and tell me what you think you would have done:

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 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 theater in Boston and the seats averaged $100.

Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of an 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 one of the finest instruments in the world - how many other things are we missing?


SudsnJewels said...

Gail - Someone sent this to me just after Christmas and for whatever reason, it does not surprise me. What makes me smile is the common theme in thinking about time, how we spend it, joy, what gives us joy.... Yes, part of the journey. :) Good stuff.

Kasey said...

wonderful post my dear!

Anonymous said...

Great Post!! I wish I knew what station because I would have loved to hear that. Makes me think that I, we (me and the mrs.) need to take a breath once in a while and just listen. To the birds signing by the porch,the winding blowing by, to the kids ... to each other.

We buried my great aunt last week. She was 94. And she loved to just sit with a cup of tea (always in a china cup) and listen to the world. What a great listener she was. She knew everything that was going on. I remember my grandfather sitting under the giant walnut tree in his yard. Him listening to us (my brothers and me) and us listening to his stories. It certainly was a different time and boy do I miss those days. I miss you Mama, DiDo, Ma, Pop and Aunt Dot. Look in on us when you get a chance.


littlebyrd said...

Well this pretty much stopped me in my tracks. I have been running one hundred miles an hour for the last year and my resolution this year was to try to slow down and enjoy these exact kinds of moments and also spend more time with my kid, my husband...This story is another good reason to slow it down - thanks.

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