Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Subway Experiment

Are you familiar with Joshua Bell? If not, you should be. He just so happens to be my favorite violinist - and one of the best in the entire world. 

A few years back he did a social experiment with The Washington Post. Bell anonymously situated himself in a D.C. metro station, case open, playing his Stradivarius during rush hour. In the video you watch as hundrends (thousands?) stream past him. Few acknowledge him much less stop and listen. Joshua Bell is a virtuoso who regularly sells out concert halls across the globe, yet in a subway station, dressed in a ballcap and jeans, he went unnoticed.

So what is it? Is it our fast-paced life that doesn't allow us to slow down long enough to enjoy something truly beautiful? Or is it our fascination with labels? (No matter how beautiful the music - a musician wandering the streets does not carry a prestigious label.)

This story and these thoughts were fresh in my mind after re-watching the video on Monday night. As a result, my ears perked up when I heard the sound of music while passing through the hospital lobby yesterday. I looked over to see an elderly man playing piano in the corner. The seats surrounding him were empty. People, in a hurry, passing by quickly.

Immediately, I thought back to Joshua Bell in the subway station. I knew I didn't want to fall victim to what I saw in that video - people moving so fast that they didn't see [hear] the beauty right in front of them.

 I lifted Elisabeth from her wheelchair and we sat in one of the vacant seats. It wasn't a world famous musician. It wasn't an invaluable instrument. But nonetheless, we stopped, we listened - and it was lovely.

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