Now, Now, Now...

by Karen Hood-Caddy -

Gene Weingarten of The Washington Post wrote a fascinating account of a man who started playing his violin in the metro station at the L’Enfant Plaza in Washington, DC. It was almost 8 am on a busy Friday morning. The man, who was young and white, wore jeans and a baseball cap. For almost 45 minutes he played some of the most difficult pieces a violinist can play.

Unbeknownst to the crowd, he had just finished an appearance at Boston's Symphony Hall where merely pretty good seats went for $100 and the place was packed.

His gig in the subway station had been arranged by The Washington Post as an experiment.

Would people recognize the incredible gift of his music even though it was presented out of context?

Before the event, the editors at The Post had discussed various scenarios about what might happen. Many were concerned that there would be a problem with crowd control. They assumed that in a demographic as sophisticated as Washington, Bell would be recognized and the rush-hour pedestrian traffic might get backed up, causing delays and maybe even a riot.

Bell played for 3 minutes before anyone even looked his way. Then a woman threw some money in his open violin case and scooted off. It was not until six minutes into the performance that someone actually stood against a wall, and listened.

In the three-quarters of an hour that Joshua Bell played, only seven people stopped what they were doing to hang around. Twenty-seven gave money, most of them on the run --for a total of $32 and change.

The rest of the people, over a thousand, missed the performance entirely. Although many were only a few feet away, most didn't even turn to look.

The whole event was videotaped by a hidden camera.

Watching the video weeks later, Bell said he was surprised at the number of people who don't pay attention at all, acting as if he were invisible.

Life Offers So Much Right Now

I love this story because it epitomizes the tension we all feel, the conflict between "getting on" with our lives and "being in" our lives. We 'get on with our lives’ because we think that’s where we can find happiness but life offers us so much RIGHT NOW!

How many beautiful things did you miss today because you were 'getting on' with your life.
  • Did you taste your food at lunch and dinner? 
  • Did you smell the autumn leaves? 
  • Hear the birdsong or the spacious sound of silence?
Why wait for some imagined treat later when by opening our senses, we can have the juice and joy the world is offering right now.

Try this:

In the next five minutes notice the colours around you, sniff the air for aroma's, really feel what your hands are touching. Lick your lips and notice any tastes still in your mouth.

Just now as I did this, I heard the soft tick, tick, tick of my clock. Yes, it's telling me that time is passing but even more, it's murmuring, "Now, now, now . . . "

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