Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Is it just me ....

... or is the universe trying to make a point?

I just hit the post button to publish the last thing I wrote about, among other things, how our perceptions form our reality.

Before closing my computer and trying to make a very real pile of ironing turn into nothing more than illusion, I read my email. This one may have gone around before but this is the first time I've seen it. The subject is:Experiment- worth the read. Here's what it said:

Washington DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. The violinist played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, approximately 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.Four minutes later, the violinist received his first dollar. A woman threw the money in the till and, without stopping, continued to walk.Six minutes after that, a young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.Ten minutes later, a 3-year-old boy stopped to look at the violinist, but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. 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. Every parent, without exception, forced them to move on.Forty-five minutes later the musician played. Only six people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 people gave him money, but continued to walk their normal pace.He collected $32.00.One hour later 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 finest 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 had sold out at a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.00 each.
This is a real 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:
If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the finest musicians in the world playing some of the most beautiful music ever written with one of the most magnificent instruments ever created, how many other things are we missing?

I went to Snopes to check on the veracity of the experiment and found it to be true. In fact the Washington Post won a Pulitzer Prize in the feature writing category for the story about the experiment. You can read for yourself at ://www.snopes.com/music/artists/bell.asp

So, I have to ask myself, is there something to this stuff about perception? What would I have done had I passed by Joshua Bell playing the violin in a crowded station? I'd like to think I would have stopped to listen. But on any given day, I often hurry about my business paying little attention to what's going on around me. Then I remind myself about the cards I had printed up. Perhaps I'm not always as oblivious to my surroundings as I think. Maybe I just have to open my eyes and ears a little bit more and take in all the beauty around me. Is that what the Handbook meant when it talked about not putting any limitations on myself?[See post below]

Looking at the ironing pile and realizing I'm only limited by the number of items to be pressed. Bring it on!
Merry ME


Fire Byrd said...

Great post, really made me think. I guess being a country bumkin I end to listen to the buskers in London and usually drop some money on the rare occasions I go to the big city.xx

Anonymous said...

There are many people playing instruments around the metro stations and corners in DC. Sometimes there are groups playing. Some gather audiences but you see that more at lunch time or later in the evening. As stated, most people are going or coming and on a cold January morning they are not going to linger long. Warm offices or classrooms are beckoning.

Paula said...

Have been lurking here for some time and today I dont like to leave without a comment: I would have stopped, I would have listened, I probably would have leaned at a wall close by getting cocooned by Bach. BUT because I love Bach!!!! The part about regocnition and perception - well, that is food for more thought. Thanks across the pond.

terri st. cloud said...

awesome post........
i like to think i woulda stopped.
i really really like to think that.
but you know....depends on where i was goin, i think!

which tells me a lot.
and makes me really think about how i live.....

thank you for this!!!!