“We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.” ~Frederick Keonig
“Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” ~Voltaire
I received an email forwarded on to me by a friend today. Typically I see FWD and immediately archive it without reading but today I took the time to see what had caught my friend’s attention. Thankfully, I did click. I took the time to appreciate something I normally would dismiss without thought.
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 approximately 2000 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 recieved his first dollar:a woman threw the money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.
A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.
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 quickly.
The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 people gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.
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.
Two days before Joshua Bell sold out a theatre in Boston where the seats averaged $100.
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 envirionment at an inappropriate hour, do we percieve 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?