How Many Other Things Are We Missing?

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Courtesy of JoshuaBell.com © 2011 Sony Music Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

There are many things that may be considered as lacking in the world today, and there are many lightworkers, dreamers and activists who make every effort to remind us of these missing elements. But one aspect that is too seldom addressed is our lack of true appreciation and gratitude.

Spiritual seekers tend to be very keen to beat the drum of abundance  – which is too often merely a thinly disguised obsession with material wealth and earthly comforts.

We simply take too much for granted every day; blessings of Joy, Beauty and Divine Grace are seldom acknowledged in our lives. How spiritually aware can we truly be if we hardly ever stop to smell the roses?

Have you heard the story of the internationally acclaimed violinist who disguised himself as a street busker with a baseball cap, and then proceeded to play Bach undercover at a metro subway station? An email outlining this intriguing story has been circulating since December 2008. There have been claims that it may be a hoax, or an urban myth, but it is indeed a true story. The event was captured on video with a hidden camera.

To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven ~ Johannes A. Gaertner

Washington Post columnist Gene Weingarten created this interesting social experiment, with the assistance of renowned violinist Joshua Bell. He wanted to find out if people would notice music played by a celebrated artist, compared to that of an ordinary street musician. Would they even bother to stop and listen?

Joshua Bell was awarded the Avery Fisher Prize in 2007 and has sold more than 5 million copies of his first recording, which remained at the top of the classical music chart for over 50 weeks. Surely, a classical instrumentalist of his caliber performing in public would instantly be noticed, or even recognized by many people. But sadly that never happened.

As each day comes to us refreshed and anew, so does my gratitude renew itself daily.  The breaking of the sun over the horizon is my grateful heart dawning upon a blessed world ~ Terri Guillemets

Bell played for 45 minutes at L’Enfant Plaza in Washington, D.C. on January 12, 2007. More than a 1000 people passed by in that short period, and they all basically ignored the virtuoso. Only seven people stopped for a moment to listen, and only one recognized him at all. Bell collected a whopping $32.17 from 27 charitable passersby. Just three days prior, he played at the Symphony Hall in Boston, to a sold out audience who paid around $100 per ticket for the relatively good seats!

Gene Weingarten won the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing in 2008 for his article Pearls Before Breakfast, which he wrote about this experiment. Audio and video recordings of the event are available at the Washington Post website.

The email that has been circulating reads as follows:

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 rush hour, it was calculated that thousand of 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 continued to walk.

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 any recognition.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best 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 his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of an 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?”

Sources: Gene Weingarten, The Washington Post ; Barbara and David P. Mikkelson, Snopes.com; David Emery, About.com; Image courtesy of Joshua Bell.com

About The Author: Anthon St Maarten is an international psychic medium, intuitive consultant and destiny coach. He has been consulting professionally as psychic medium since 2004 and has since established himself as a trusted advisor to many people all over the world. He is also a sought-after inspirational speaker, metaphysics teacher, radio personality, spiritual author and blogger, with a special interest in New Thought spirituality, metaphysics, parapsychology, mediumship and psychic phenomena. He is best known for his bestselling practical spirituality book Divine Living: The Essential Guide To Your True Destiny You can get a psychic reading from Anthon at PsychicAccess.com

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