Are we too busy to notice beauty in life?

What would you expect if one of the world’s best violin players, Joshua Bell, played, on the same Stradivarius he played at his sold out concert a few days before, the same classical pieces, in the hall of a public metro station on a random Friday morning during rush our?

  • Crowds?
  • Ovations?
  • Journalists?
  • Delight?

That’s also what The Washington Post team, who set up this experiment, thought would happen. What simply had to happen, even though the artist wore casual clothes and had no sign saying, “I’m Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world” next to him.

But none of this really happened.

Joshua Bell performed 6 Bach pieces in the morning of January 12, 2007 in the “L’Enfant Plaza” Metro Station in Washington DC. During the 43 minutes he played, 1,097 people passed by, most of them on their way to work.

Out of the 1,097 people only 6 stopped to listen for a while. It were the children who seemed to be most interested in Bell’s music. They did not feel the pressure of having to be somewhere on time. The only thing they seemed to care about was the music. But since their parents were in a hurry they were forced to walk on.

A few days earlier Bell had played to a full house at Boston’s Symphony House where seats went for $100. On this morning he collected only $32.17 from 27 people passing by and $20 from a person who recognized the artist.

This made me wonder:

  • Are we only able to absorb and process information if we are prepared to receive it?
  • Do we value something more if it costs a lot of money?
  • Why do we appreciate things more once we know they are from an “expert”?
  • Can we ever win back the intuition, purity and mindfulness we used to have as children?
  • If we do not have the time to notice, stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, which other things do we miss in our lives?
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7 Responses to Are we too busy to notice beauty in life?

  1. Sarah says:

    Great questions Anna – lots of food for thought.

    • Anna says:

      Thanks! I am quite sure that if I was one of the 1,097 people who passed by during this experiment, I would have been one of the 1,091 who didn’t stop to listen. And I even like classical music!

  2. Bas Tammens says:

    Hey Anna, great story, great site. Have fun with your quest! Cheers, Bas

  3. Adele says:

    That wouldn`t have happened in Vienna for sure!! :))

  4. Adele Gogoman says:

    That wouldn`t have happened in Vienna for sure! :))

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