"Genius is in-born, may it never be still-born."

"Oysters, irritated by grains of sand, give birth to pearls. Brains, irritated by curiosity, give birth to ideas."

"Brainpower is the bridge to the future; it is what transports you from wishful thinking to willful doing."

"Unless you keep learning & growing, the status quo has no status."

Monday, June 28, 2010

A TRUE STORY: What are you missing out in your rush to get on with life?

Dilip Mukerjea has forwarded to me the following true story a short while ago.

A violinist stood at a metro station in Washington DC .

It was a cold January morning (in 2007).

He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes.

During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousands of people went through, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule. A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk. A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the child stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while.

About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected US$32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world.

He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth US$3.5 million.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theatre in Boston and the seats averaged US$100.

This is a real story.

Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organised by the Washington Post as part of an social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people.

The outlines were:

In a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour:

Do we perceive beauty?

Do we stop to appreciate it?

Do we recognise the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

[Readers can go to this link to read the belated Washington Post report on the experiment.]

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