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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Joshua Bell Busks At A DC Metro Station [Video]

Thanks to the Limey's wifey for this one. "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder" is an all too often quoted cliche though frankly in our modern society at times it seems like standards have been set that we all have to live up to. If ever there was something that went some way towards proving that the old cliche really does have some merit it is this.

The story unfolds something like this:
  • 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 the musician finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed and no one applauded. 
Nothing very unusual or significant about any of that you are probably thinking. Not so my friend.

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, on 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.
The 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?
And what conclusions might we draw from this? One might 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?
A very inciteful anonymous quote sums it up this way:

"It's not important the day we were born or the day we die...what is important is the dash between these two. It's the dash that tells how we lived!"

So son't be a "grumpy" like me - enjoy the dash, expect the unexpected and relish it, stroll through life with wonder in your heart at the marvels of nature and this world we all share. You just never know what is coming next but it just might be glorious if you take the time to stop and notice.


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