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Monday, 2 April 2012

The Things We Miss: Incognito Busker

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 1,100 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, and 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 tugged 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, a virtuoso violinist. He had just played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, on a violin worth $3.5 million dollars.
Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.
This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post initiated by columnist Gene Weingarten 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 talent in an unexpected context? Weingarten won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing his article on the experiment.
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?

Thanks to day light saving, I manage to wake up fresh and early this morning, I read this article while I was stuck in the middle of the daily inbound M1 traffic. Surprisingly, roads in the city that I was expecting heavy traffic was not, while a minor accident across the other side of the free way causes 4 lanes of cars to crawl for over an hour.

This is a reminder to me to notice people in every situation and not just in the times where it’s easy to go along with the crowd. Sometimes it is funny how I notice God's fingerprints in everything only after an incident happened, I guess it’s just up to me to be more sensitive to others, to notice the needy and to allow Him to work in my life.

Lord it’s easy for me to notice you when everything is going well, but there are times when I walk straight past you, particularly when I am in a time of struggle. May I constantly be seeking you out, even when I’m busy, tired or upset.


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