Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Take Time to Truly Enjoy the Gifts of Each Day

At this time of the year, with the holidays upon us, we tend to become more aware of the people around us. We show more compassion, give more to charity, share a smile with  strangers while out shopping. What if our daily perception was as keen throughout the year as it is during the adrenaline driven holiday season?

This experiment was in January 2007, but for those that missed it, please consider the daily joys we may allow to pass us by in our hurry to rush through life.

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 the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Fantastic Nancy!

lisa said...

Wow, that is frightening to be soo true and yet a fascinating reality at the same time, living now in such a hi-tech world it seems that we are in a most connected disconnected era, so many we used to believe had a mental illness talking to themselves on the streets can no longer be differentiated from the masses, few look up anymore from a gadget they are either texting or gaming on which seems also too be something that no one can leave home without.. Fascinating times..

Anonymous said...

I love this post. It's so true. One of the maxims I try to follow is to live every day to its fullest, but I find that it's more of a challenge in reality than it looks on paper. Happy New Year, my fried!

Twisted Cinderella said...

I hope you had a lovely Christmas! Happy New Years! Here’s to a fabulous new year!

EverydayCowgirl said...

You are so right!