Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Violinist in the Metro

(I found this story online)

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. 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 the station, most of them on their way to work.
Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was a 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 kid 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 that 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 $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 3.5 million dollars.
Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston where the seats average $100 each.
Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a 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 recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

photo:Yves Klein: Leap Into the Void, 1960

i find it fascinating, though not surprising, when millionaires and billionaires start throwing themselves out of windows and in front of trains after losing their fortunes in times of financial crisis. i would think that if a person has the ability, the drive, and the vision to achieve such success, that they would apply those same traits to their new situation. but to actually take your own life because of the loss of money or status is bizarre to me, if not a little pathetic.
is it embarrassment? is it the fear of living without an expected level of comfort? is it shame for the way in which the success might have been gained? is it guilt for those whose lives were also affected by those actions? is it the "seeming" loss of power and freedom? or is it the stark realization of being forced to face who and what one really is when everything else is stripped away? perhaps that presentation of self, or lack of, is what takes them to the ledge. i certainly don't know. but i'd like to think that if i were in their shoes. i would instead, take a leap into the void and soar into the discoveries that this new life would present.