Posts Tagged ‘perception’

Perception: The Joshua Bell Story

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

A friend of mine sent me the following email.  In today’s society we are “programmed” to think and act in certain ways.  We are often sold the package and not the product.  It it looks good it must be good.

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?

This story reminds me a a book I read called “Acres of Diamonds“.  In a way this book has a tragic ending.  Here is a synopsis of that story.

There is a man who spent his entire life looking for riches.  Though he tried and tried he failed.  One day he learned of a new opportunity and he sold his home.  The new owner discover that on that property was a diamond field.  In fact it ended up being one of the largest diamond mine in the world.  The tragedy is that the man in the story died broke.  He had all the resources he could need yet was unable to see what he already had.

What treasure, opportunity, gifts do you have right now that you are not seeing?  Open your eyes and see the beauty that is around you.  God has provided you with all that you will every need.  You just need to receive it.

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