Monday, April 09, 2007


A lone man plays along along the Metro at the L'Enfant Plaza Station. His image was perfectly normal: jeans, long-sleeved T-shirt, and a baseball cap. For the next 43 minutes, he would play 6 classical music pieces and earn a total of $32.17, ignoring a woman who walked up to him and gave him $20. He played classical music with a violin to 1097 people coming and going from L'Enfant Plaza.

What people didn't know was that this lone man was one of the greatest violinists of our current time, and that small violin of his was Antonio Stradivari's Gibson ex Huberman, and cost him 3.5 million US dollars. For the span of 43 minutes, Joshua Bell was not someone who earned thousands by the minutes but rather $40 by the hour.

If a great musician played music but no one listened to him, was the musician really any good?

Perhaps the context of the situation was too difficult for people to appreciate beauty at work: Morning rush, people getting to work; one man playing amongst them all hardly attracts attention. But here's the thing: How much more different would it have been in another situation?

"What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare."
-- from "Leisure," by W.H. Davies

Our life has way too many priorities here and there. One interesting thing to note from the Washington Post article was this:

"...the behavior of one demographic remained absolutely consistent. Every single time a child walked past, he or she tried to stop and watch. And every single time, a parent scooted the kid away."

Our life has certainly evolved from childhood. A child laughs around 400 times a day. An adult laughs around 15. Where have the other 385 laughs gone? Somewhere where appreciation of beauty has gone, perhaps.

If you met geniusity, would you recognize it? If you met beauty, would you appreciate it?

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