Slow Down

A friend sent me and a couple of other friends this story in the morning:

"Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. The man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approx. 2 thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

After 3 minutes: A middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.

4 minutes later: The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

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

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 all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly.

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.

1 hour: He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

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.

This is a true story. 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 . The questions raised: in a common place environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context? One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made.... How many other things are we missing?"

The story generated the following interesting exchange:

Friend 1:

"Reminds me of Slow Dance.

Slow Dance by David Weatherford

Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round, or listened to rain slapping the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight, or gazed at the sun fading into the night?
You better slow down, don't dance so fast, time is short, the music won't last.
Do you run through each day on the fly, when you ask "How are you?", do you hear the reply?
When the day is done, do you lie in your bed, with the next hundred chores running through your head?
You better slow down, don't dance so fast, time is short, the music won't last.
Ever told your child, we'll do it tomorrow, and in your haste, not see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch, let a friendship die, 'cause you never had time to call and say hi?
You better slow down, don't dance so fast, time is short, the music won't last.
When you run so fast to get somewhere, you miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day, it's like an unopened gift thrown away.
Life isn't a race, so take it slower, hear the music before your song is over."


"This morning, as the swan had left and I was making a rather reluctant commute to work, on my way I saw a sparrow taking off from a puddle, a couple of droplets of rainwater dripping from its tiny feet. I saw a snail inching towards an orange flower on the ground, to take in the freshness after the rain. I was thinking, "Lovely little scenes!", but it never occurred to me to slow down. My heart was already weighted down by the thoughts of the work awaiting in the office."

Friend 2:

"As I was about to cross the road outside my home, I noticed one of the man-hole covers. It has four holes in the four corners, where the workers can fit in the handle to haul the cover out. These holes were covered with dirt and small little plants were growing in them and covering the little hole like a green moss carpet. I thought, 'Maybe I could take a series of pictures of these situations with my new camera and call my work Tenacity'. Just a passing thought."

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