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 average $100.
This is a real story. 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 some of the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?
This email really made me begin to think on this day after Christmas. Although if you know my family well enough Christmas doesn't really come until about 3 days after the real date - we have lots of family members with other extended familys and meeting on an actual date (say December 24th or 25th hasn't happened in a long time) but what is an actual date, when you are together with family celebrating the birth of Christ?
Anyway, back to the email. Here are some of the things I think I miss or don't readily see as each day passes us on: The beautiful sunrises and sunsets, the cry of a baby (even if at the moment it doesn't seem real beautiful), a new leaf on a spring tree, a cat lying lazily in the sun, a smile from a mom, nana, pops, aunt or granny when they see their little one becoming more independent every day, a smile exchanged between a husband and wife that only they know the true meaning behind, a family laughing or crying together. Although there shouldn't be just one time of the year to stop and hear the beautiful noises or see the beautiful things around us it should remind us what this time of the year really means to all of us.
I hope you and all of yours have a blessed holiday season!