Sunday, April 26, 2009

When the light is just right, you will discover beauty within you that you never knew existed.

A couple of weeks ago, while landing at the Las Vegas airport, I was capitvated by one of the most dazzling, breathtaking light shows I've ever seen. But it wasn't The Strip. Not New York, Paris, dancing waters, shiny hotel towers or extravagently illuminated casinos. The light show that took my breath away played out on the streets, cars and parking lots of Las Vegas.

Cricket and I were on our way back to North Idaho after spending four fun filled days with her family in Silicon Valley. The trip included a short layover in Las Vegas. As we landed, The Strip happened to be on the side of the plane where Cricket and I happened not to be. Of course, the passengers on that side of the plane were ooh-ing and aah-ing at the shiny human made terrain of The Strip. As far as I'm concerned, they got the boring show.

As our airplane was making it's descent, the sun happened to be precisely at the right angle to illuminate every reflective surface facing us. The sun is so far away that, even as we descended, the relative angle between the sun and the ground didn't really change. So this light show unfolded from when the outskirts of the sprawling city first came into view, until we were on the ground. Thousands upon thousands of car reflectors, and hundreds of street signs glinted brilliantly as we passed. As we flew past each street, the 20 to 50 or more street signs of every cross street flashed a simultaneous brilliant green. Every parking lot was a wave of shining red and amber. Every street was a flowing procession of brightly colored reflection. I have been to Las Vegas several times, and this was by far the most breathtaking light show I have ever seen there. The inherent beauty of the cars, streets and parking lots was revealed by a new light.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Are you seeing the beauty that surrounds you? More importantly, are you recognizing the beauty inside of you?

Below is a great story with a powerful and thought provoking message. It left me doing a bit of deep introspection. Am I appreciating all the beauty that surrounds me? Are you...?

Recently, a friend of mine shared this story at our Toastmasters meeting. It really impacted me so I asked her to forward it to me. (Thanks, Kate!) I knew I wanted to shae it with all of you. It will take a couple of minutes to read -- well worth the time. And, the busier you are, the more important it is for you to pause and take this in...

I personally confirmed that this is legit; not an email hoax. Here's a link to the Washington Post article that tells the whole story:

The article will take a lot longer to read, but I encourage you to take the time to read it through to the end and watch the very brief videos that are included. The whole thing took me about 30-40 minutes. I can assure you, it's well worth giving up one of the sitcoms you may be planning to watch. As great as the short version below is, it doesn't come close to capturing the whole story. I was riveted from beginning to end!

And, please take note of my "PS" at the end of this post.

Enjoy the story, the article and the beauty that surrounds you!

Dr. Mark William Cochran
Sandpoint and Coeur d'Alene, Idaho

Subject: The Violinist In The Metro
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.

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?

PS: Here are a couple of illuminating quotes from the Washington Post article that we will all be well served to ponder...

First, a vivid illustration of the wisdom of our children, and how we can learn from them:
"But the behavior of one demographic remained absolutely consistent. Every single time a child walked past, he or she tried to stop and watch. And every single time, a parent scooted the kid away."

And, from a passage about a young man who walked within 4 feet of Joshua but didn't notice him because he was listening to his iPod:
"For many of us, the explosion in technology has perversely limited, not expanded, our exposure to new experiences."