Perceiving beauty

I received an email this morning from a dear friend (who I've never actually met, but have emailed since 1998!):


In Washington , DC , at a Metro Station, on a cold January morning in 2007, this man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, approximately 2,000 people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After about 3 minutes, a middle-aged man noticed that there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then he hurried on to meet his schedule. 

 About 4 minutes later:

The violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

At 6 minutes:

A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

At 10 minutes:

A 3-year old boy stopped, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head the whole time. This action was repeated by several other children, but every parent - without exception - forced their children to move on quickly.

At 45 minutes:

The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

After 1 hour:

He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed and no one applauded. There was no recognition at all.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before, Joshua Bell sold-out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100 each to sit and listen to him play the same music.


So, apparently this is a true story (I did my due diligence) - it was originally published in the Washington Post and the full article is definitely worth reading.

A couple of interesting quotes from the original article made me stop and think:

There was no ethnic or demographic pattern to distinguish the people who stayed to watch Bell, or the ones who gave money, from that vast majority who hurried on past, unheeding. Whites, blacks and Asians, young and old, men and women, were all represented in all three groups. But the behaviour 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.

What are we really teaching our kids? How is it they recognise beauty and talent, yet we recognise busy and "must-do"? How much can we learn from our kids?

The other quote was:

If we can't take the time out of our lives to stay a moment and listen to one of the best musicians on Earth play some of the best music ever written; if the surge of modern life so overpowers us that we are deaf and blind to something like that -- then what else are we missing?

What else are we missing??? So, maybe, just for today, stop and appreciate the beauty that surrounds us. Listen to beautiful music. Look at beautiful art. Breathe in the smells of nature (all of them!). Feel the touch of another human's skin. Savour the food and drink you love. Perceive beauty all around you in all its forms. Because life indeed does have an expiry date.


  1. Thanks for such an inspiring post! I really enjoy to start a day with reading your blog and be uplifted.

  2. Beautiful !

    Thank you so much for sharing :).

  3. Beautiful, and something as parents we all need to remember. Slow down and take notice. Thanks for posting!


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