PERCEPTION…Something to Think About

On a cold January morning in 2007, on a Washington, DC subway platform stood a man incognito with his violin playing classical music to passersby.

Within a few minutes, a man noticed the musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule, and a few minutes later the violinist received his first dollar.

Soon thereafter a 3-year old boy stopped to listen, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The boy stopped to listen to the violinist again, but his mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the entire time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly.

More than 2,000 people entered the Metro station as the musician played continuously for 45 minutes. He worked his way through a set list of classical masterpieces, but only a few stopped to listen. Some dropped money in his open violin case (for a total of about $32), but most never even stopped to look.

When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

The man, Joshua Bell, is one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music and one of the most intricate Bach pieces ever written, on one of the most valuable violins ever made. Just two days before, Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100 each.

This true story of 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.

One question raised was “If we don’t take a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing some of the best music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made, how many other things in life are we missing?”

The demands and distractions of our fast-paced world can indeed stand in the way of appreciating truth and beauty and other delights when we encounter them.

Remember to take a moment to pause and appreciate the gifts surrounding you.

To Your Success,

Marla Brucker, DCH, R.HA