Monday, March 5, 2012

The Music of Life

Picture an all-too familiar scene...  a busy Metro station, crowds of people hurrying... somewhere.  A lone busker, this time a violinist, stands by busy street-level doors, playing Bach.  In fact, he plays 6 different pieces for over 45 minutes.  1,100 people walk past him in that time, 27 people give him some money (in all just over $32), only 6 stayed for any length of time and listened.

But on this early Friday morning in January, it was no ordinary busker, playing ordinary music on an ordinary violin.  This Friday morning was special.  As part of a social experiment, initiated by the Washington Post, on this Friday morning, Joshua Bell, one of the finest classical musicians in the world, played one of the most intricate and beautiful pieces of music ever written, on one of the most expensive violins ever made (worth over $3.5 million)... in a Washington D.C. metro station.

Most people that were present failed to notice him, let alone hear or appreciate the music.

Certainly, explanations can be offered.  It was a Friday morning, people were on their way to work, they were late, they had other priorities...  But watch the video.  These people were not merely rushing, they didn't even notice Bell.  They didn't walk past him reluctantly, they failed to even acknowledge his playing.  In fact, in later interviews, some didn't even recall that a musician had been present, even though they passed within 4 feet of him.

If one of the world's most acclaimed virtuoso's could go completely unnoticed it begs the question... What else are we missing?

Are we all so caught up in our every day 'busyness' of life that we are losing our recognition and appreciation of beauty and art?

What was interesting is that of those 1000+ passers-by, it was predominantly young children that were the most fascinated by the musician present.  They clearly wanted to remain to listen but were hustled past quickly by their parents.  Children, it would seem, still possess an appreciation for the beauty around them.  At what point however do the expectations of others around us begin to inhibit and restrict this enjoyment?  And... why would we let it?

Don't get me wrong.  I am certainly as achievement focused and driven as the next person, but... I do not want to envision a life where we lose all sense of wonder in the world around us, where we fail to recognise the value that beauty brings to our minds, hearts and souls, whether through music or through art.  Taking the time each day to search for the beauty that surrounds us can go a long way to being more appreciative of what we have, and where we are.  Find those moments in your day - they are out there.

This week, practise looking for and appreciating your moments.  Whether in a sunset, a smile, the laugh of a child, a painting or the music of some street corner musician.  They might not always be the calibre of Joshua Bell, but they can still serve to give your day the lift that it needs!

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