Rush hour in many major cities is an intense time. This story though is about so much more. Last year I experienced “rush hour” when waiting for someone at Grand Central Station. I was standing in front of a store window when suddenly many people raced by – a stampede is what it was. They began brushing up against me; I started to think I had become invisible. I was occupying a small space and moving a few inches back wasn’t a possibility. I won’t say anymore except that the insanity will stop when we fully understand the power of the present moment.
This remarkable story has been traveling around by way of email.
“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 r…ush hour, it was
calculated that 1,100 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
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, and continued to
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 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
No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the most
talented musicians in the world. He had just played one of the most
intricate pieces ever written, on 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 averaged $100.
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 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?
One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:
“If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best
musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many
other things are we missing?”
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“It’s foolish how we rush through life and cry that time is on the wing. We’re living in eternity, and time is just a clockmade thing.” – R. McCann