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."

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