Thursday, November 12, 2009

Stop to Smell the Roses

Forwarded to me by my stepfather tonight, worth sharing:

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?
Life is a gift, enjoy every day...


  1. Ohhhhhhhhhhhh thank you for telling about this!!!! So true. You know I use to play the violin. Still have one... when my hubby and I had dated for about a year... he bought me a beautiful one for my birthday. I can still play a bit. I love this story. Thank your father for me as well.

  2. P.S. When my son and I were in NY... we saw and heard some of the best musicians sitting here and there... and we stopped and listened and left money every time. BUT... on the subway... the discourage people from doing this. I didn't care. They even announce it on the intercom to not encourage it or give them money. It's a sad thing... some were brilliant!!!

  3. What a great story and sad at the same time. Life is too short not to, as they say...stop and smell the roses! I live with my husband in a rural area and marvel daily by the raccoons that come a visit/feed outside our backdoor. I am now 5 years and never gets old! I made a call recently all excited when I saw a many I have I seen in my 55 years...who knows, but each and every rainbow is exciting to me! Life is exciting everyday...if one doesn't see something special everyday...look closer! Thanks again!

  4. Oh, wow so very very true! A Prayer: Lord, help me to see your world with unhurried eyes and a tender heart towards what is truly important and worthy.
    Thank you for sharing "Stop to Smell the Roses"

  5. thank you for sharing this story. A similar incident happened here in Toronto on Rembrance Day. A young man who became a Canadian citizen travelled from B.C. to Toronto Canada to show his support from our Canadian troops. He stood in a busy downtown area of Toronto and played O Canada. Only a few people stopped at the 11th hour to listen and many people interviewed forgot that 11:00 was the hour. I was appalled that so many people could not take time out of their schedules to stop or remember what Rememberance Day signified.
    How very sad. This young Chinese immigrant was so saddened when interviewed. So thank you for sharing your story and allowing me to share our Canadian version of
    Stop to Smell the Roses

  6. I LOVE this! I received it back a few months from my sister and she said she sent it to me because I was always saying that...that if she didnt slow down she would miss the beauty intended for us to see in the world, lol, sorta the same thing! Thanks for sharing Mel!

  7. Love this story, thanks for sharing. I marvel every day at the little hummingbirds who come to my back porch to the feeders, and believe it or not, in Indiana no less, I had one drink for a long time on November 8th. I hope she made it south for the winter! We all need to take time for the every day events! And the Special Ones too!

  8. Thanks for sharing this story. It is so true that we miss a lot to see those wonderful things and to be grateful for. May I share this on my blog by making a link to yours?

  9. That is a very touching story and I feel most of us American should slow down and enjoy life for it is too short.
    I love to sit in my back yard and watch the bluebirds and hummingbirds.
    We have a person who is traveling through our area now on a bicycle and he is a artist. His bicycle is duck taped together and has a cart he pulls with his bike.
    He is homeless and is a diebets and is traveling to different places.
    I was out looking for him with some paints I do not use but I did not found him. May God be with him.

  10. Wow, thanks for sharing this story. It's amazing that that many people could pass by him and not recognize who he was or stop to hear such beautiful music.

  11. I think it was wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Hey Mel! I am so glad you posted this!!! My pastor talked about this a couple weeks ago and it really was unbelievable to me to think someone could walk by that kind of talent! Reading the peice and seeing the video -- hopefully folks will wake up to the beauty around them!


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