Thursday, January 8, 2009

Missing Beauty All Around

Another AMAZING inbox story I have to share with you all:

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 on 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.

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, how many other things are we missing?

I'm taken back.  Are you?

Be sure to click the link to read the article and watch the video.  Thank you so much Washington Post!


  1. Yikes - incredible story and frightening at the same time. Thank you for the wake-up call.

  2. What an amazing story. People just rush around - and I am guilty too.

  3. Wow! Great story. Makes me think what I would have done.

  4. WOW. That's an awesome story!

  5. Fabulous story. Thank you so much for making me pause to think and look around.

  6. So interesting.
    We are all guilty of not taking the time to really look around.
    Thank you for sharing.

  7. Wow! That is really interesting! I love stuff like this!

  8. Thank you for sharing! That is crazy--but, it's clearly so true. I know that I need to slow down and appreciate things. I hear someone playing the guitar on the underground in London when I was there--he was really talented and I stopped for a few seconds to listen, but, it's like everyone else was in such a hurry, that I got stuck in the hustle and bustle when I could have stayed a little longer... Maybe in 2009 I will slow my pace a little.

  9. my dear friend from pearls and grace told me about you & this post.
    i will go ahead & admit, that i would have probably been one to keep walking. you are so, so right. many times i find myself being too busy to focus on the beauty around. what a great story & a wake-up call! thank you.

  10. I love that story. My parents had drinks with him once (my dad is a cellist) and he LEFT his violin in the restaurant (the 3.5 million one). Luckily he got it back and noone had even moved it!

  11. Oh that is a good story!!! You had me at Hello :)