As we rush through life we have two types of problems – we do not pay attention to the beauties in the day to day activity and we think something has value only if it has a price – so that the snob value kicks in!

In Washington, DC, at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, this man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes.  During that time, approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

About 3 minutes:
The violinist received his first dollar.  A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

At 6 minutes:
A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

At 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.

After 1 hour:
He finished playing and silence took over.  No one noticed and no one applauded.  There was no recognition at all.
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 each to sit and listen to him play the same music.

This is a true story.  Joshua Bell, playing incognito in the D.C. Metro Station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities.

This experiment raised several questions:
1.In a common-place environment, at an inconvenient or inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?
2.If so, do we stop to appreciate it?
3.Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

4. If we had paid $ 100 equivalent, would we have posted in FB to make sure our friends see us there?

5. Would we have applauded even if we did not understand, but had got the tickets free?

6. Will we now go to Google to check the violinist’s history, now that we have heard about him?

7. Honestly how many of us are hearing his name for the first time?

………….many questions….no answers I guess.

Learning:  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 as we rush through life?

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  1. we pay few thousand bucks to walk on Treadmill in AC Gym it is worth it
    However how many of us would Walk 3 bus stops getting similar workout for free & save money.
    🙂

  2. i’ll play the devil’s advocate: joshua bell playing on the metro steps is not the same thing as joshua bell playing at Boston theater.the audience in the first case is not music aficianado.they are harried and hurried metro commuters.in the theater people come with the mental frame of mind to listen to music.
    rare would be the person who wants to go to a metro to listen to world class music.so while joshua bell’s output is the same,what really matters is what people around him think of it.
    the metro goer and the theater goer are different people.for some the music is a mere distraction.for others the music is a spiritual experience.both are subjective .value is always subjective.there is no correct ‘value’.only perceived value

    ditto for the AC gym and the walk to the bus stop.
    the former is a focused effort.the second is usually a harried commuter -not looking for exercise.there is no right choice.both are valid

  3. truth be told I would have listened to the music, maybe put forth and offering and hurried on.
    In the work frame of mind and not the leisure and enrichment frame of mind.
    Not that one misses splashes of beauty– Gilbert Hill all decked up looks lovely in the distance, as does the decked building across the road. On my 5 min terrace walk.

  4. Agree with Pravin.
    Everybody is in hurry at metro and bus stop. People haven’t come there to listen to music.
    But the blog really captures following thing :
    As we rush through life we have two types of problems – we do not pay attention to the beauties in the day to day activity …

  5. I have to share experience of my father.

    My father, a devotee of Shri Satya Sai Baba, had gone to Puttparthi. He was staying in the accommodation provided. One morning, he and his friend heard sound of sitar coming from the adjoining room.
    Curious, both of them popped into the room. What do they find! – Pandit Ravishankar doing his morning riyaz! My father asked for permission to listen, got it and spent a morning listening Pandit Ravishankar.

    Pravin, you are correct, but I would not think in black and white. I cannot say – this time I will appreciate beauty, that I will do work.
    Nowadays we have to enjoy beautiful things in life when we come across them and be thankful that we realized that those things are beautiful.

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