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Friday, March 5, 2010

Yesterday I posted a hmmm query regarding how do people manage in difficult times. It wasn't meant to be a downer as Karin Corbin thought....but then if I had gone thru as difficult a time as she did, I probably wouldn't have much patience with people musing out loud either.
I agree with her that recollections are usually better than when they actually happened but I also think that we, as a "have" society, are too object oriented; if we can't afford the toys or can't afford to go to the movies, etc, then we're considered poor and looked down on.
So with that in mind let me copy Christine Verstraete's post in its entirety here because her last sentence says it all:
Someone emailed this to me and I thought it worth repeating.

Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. The man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approx. 2 thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After 3 minutes a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.

4 minutes later:

The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

6 minutes:

A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

10 minutes:

A 3-year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly.

45 minutes:

The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

1 hour:

He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest 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 Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a true 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 people's priorities.

The questions raised:

*In a common place environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?

*Do we stop to appreciate it?

*Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made....

How many other things are we missing?

You'll find Christine's blog here


  1. That's very true - most of life is perception and the stories we tell ourselves about why we like some things and not others, e.g. why a 'branded' item may seem worth more than a home-made one, etc.
    I grew up in modest circumstances - we grew our own food, kids played outside most of the day, my mother made our clothes (and I made my own for years).
    I think the term 'reduced circumstances' explains a lot - if you have known better times (more money, more friends, better health, etc) then the change can chafe. Happiness is a mindset - not being jealous of others' seeming wealth - it can be difficult in this age of television and internet. You have to decide what really gives you the most happiness or satisfaction and aim for that.
    If you're happy then your kids will learn the trick too.
    Well I'm good with theories! Good at rambling, too.

  2. I happen to love all of this mind rambling as it gives one food for thought, mostly. :)

    I grew up with parents from the depression, the youngest of a large family, they did things differently than a lot of my counter parts with younger parents. I learned frugality and not wasting! anything! lol ;)

    When I met my husband, I thought, he was rich. He was actaully raised very poor, but never thought so. He had everything. Love! :)

    He did run the day outside, he lived in a small village and neighbors looked out for one another.

    It's all different and it's all the same, you know? if you ask enough questions and get enough responses, you will find in the end that the answers are all quite similar.

    We harken back to what is most important and concentrate on that.

  3. I grew up in what would be called a deprived background after my father died very young. Luckily my mother was an artist who taught us to appreciate beauty and to appreciate what you have rather than what you don't. I often worry obout the materialist society we are bringing our children up in.


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