=slowing down=

“The poet Billy Collins once laughingly observed that all babies are born with a knowledge of poetry, because the lub-dub of the mother’s heart is in iambic meter. Then, Collins said, life slowly starts to choke the poetry out of us. It may be true with music, too.”
from Pearls Before Breakfast by Gene Weingarten The Washington Post Sunday, April 8, 2007

I recently received a forwarded email — those I rarely read.   I started skimming it and couldn’t turn back — I got sucked in.   After I noticed my body responding to what I was reading (chills + feelings of sorrow, empathy, disappointment, passion),  I re-read it and thought about my own life.  I’m a lover of music.  I have children.  I’m often rushed to get from one place to the next.  SO many things in the following forward applied to me. It really, really made me think and reflect on my life with two young, inquisitive kiddos.

Here’s the forward:

A Violinist in the Metro

From The Effective Club

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 dragged 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?

(end of the forwarded email)

To read the Washington Post article about the experiment in its entirety, click here.

Hope you have a super day — I know I’m going to slow down a little and try and do things a bit differently (okay a LOT differently) in 2009.  ~m

7 Responses to “=slowing down=”

  1. julie Says:

    SO true. I remember when you read that to me and I got chills too! I’m so glad you shared that. I’m sure my kids are too! :)

  2. shawna Says:

    I love that top quote (and the photo, of course!). I lived in DC when this happened and it created quite the stir. I really wish I could have seen him, but I imagine that if I had been in the metro, I probably would have simply paused and then gone on. I usually try my best to stop to listen to musicians, but it’s easy to forget that the most beautiful music can come from the most unexpected places in our lives. Thanks for the reminder.

    (PS if you haven’t seen the time elapsed video of this on you tube, it’s very interesting because people only stop when they see other people stopping, as if it legitimates their interest.)

  3. tami Says:

    maggie…speechless…which is rare! okay moment over…maggie, thanks for sharing this! it’s funny how things we need to read and hear come at the least expected moments but reachs deep into the heart. i believe in you maggie…there is nothing better than enjoying the simplicity in the minutes of each day that come together to make our life story. soak up each minute!

  4. Meg Says:

    fist of all; I gasped at the beauty of the little baby in the pic. SO precious. Second, that email made me gasp and tear up to consider things I’m missing out on. Even after purposfully moving to a rural country area and choosing not to work for now, I still find it my nature to rush around alot of the time. (I suppose having two small children, that is hard to avoid) Thanks for the reminder to open my eye’s and ears a bit more often. It is kind of exciting to think of possibility of more incredible moments existing in the world that only need be recognized .

  5. Maggie Says:

    This article really is a BIG reminder for me and I’m thrilled others got something out of this, too.
    Julie, Shawna, Tami, & Meg…thank you so much for your insight and “real” comments. I appreciate it more than you know!
    ~m

  6. stephanie Says:

    SO TRUE!!! I remember seeing this story on tv some time ago. It really makes you think about life. Thanks for sharing the story! The picture reminds me of my babies, and how they are growing so fast! I think we could all use some slowing down a little. I am tired of racing.

  7. Emma Sharkey Says:

    What a beautiful email but how sad and true. Thank you for sharing this, reminding us to stop, listen and wonder in aww at how beautiful life really is but how much of it slips by un-noticed.

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