Nov 8, 2009

How Do You Perceive Beauty?

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 thousand of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed the musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried on 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 three year old boy. His mother tagged him along hurriedly but the child stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head to see the musician as he walked. 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 six 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. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

What no onlooker knew was that the musician they chose not to see was none other than famous violinist Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. In the subway that day he had played one of the most intricate pieces ever written for the violin, worth 3.5 million dollars. Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell performed at a sold out theater in Boston at $100 a seat.

This is a true story and test of how we perceive beauty in our world. The experiment involving Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station, was organized by the Washington Post as part of an social experiment about perception, taste, and priorities of people.

The test guidelines - a common place environment at an inappropriate hour:

Do we perceive beauty when we see it?

Do we stop to appreciate it?

Do we recognize beauty in an unexpected context?

How many things of beauty do you miss in life because you fail to recognize it?


grey like snuffie said...

Great post Kathy...God's really stirring that in me with this month of much we take for granted. Hope you have a grand week

Heather said...

guilty as charged. in a hurry so often that i'm sure i miss plenty of beautiful things. i keep telling myself to slow down but it's so hard!

ceekay said...

Great post Kathy. I try to remember this concept every day of my life....not that I always succeed...but try!

Kat said...

Beautiful message! So true too. I KNOW we miss a lot of beauty around us because we're always rushing for one reason or another. Sad.


Scooterblu's Whimsy~Rhonda said...

Very insightful! :)

Hope you are having a great week! ~hugs, Rhonda

A Hint of Home said...

That was such an interesting post.
I hope you and your family are doing well. How's your Dad doing?

~CC Catherine said...

Kathy, Dear friend, is this ever a true post that you've written. This makes me think of my trip to Savannah, GA in August with my beloved Husband. We were strolling along the harbor and this musician, weathered and aged man, but beautiful...was playing jazz on a saxaphone, old time songs, and it was like heaven to me. We sat nearby and just watched him, at one point my husband walked up to him, and asked if he'd play"Just the Two of Us" by Grover Washington Jr...that was our song. He played it, my husband was trying to bribe me into getting up in front of hundreds of people to dance with him as the onlookers were watching the musician...I shyed away from that, but I did love sitting together gazing on this man...and he too had his little can there making money. I often wondered how he did that day, but more importantly, who was this man behind the he totally was a precious gift to so many that day. Love you friend! ~CC Catherine