It’s early Friday morning on a cold January day at a metro station in Washington D.C. A violinist is playing classical music as people stream past on their way to work. During his 43 minute performance 1,097 people walk past. 63 people and three minutes later, a middle aged man notices there is music playing, slows for a moment his head turned slightly, then keeps walking.
4 minutes: He gets his first donation, a woman tosses in a dollar and walks off.
6 minutes: A man stops to listen, he’s three minutes early for work.
10 minutes: A three year old tries to stop and listen, but is propelled along after his mother, rushed for time to get him to class and get back to work.
43 minutes: The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. Some gave money, but kept walking. The man collected a total of $32.17. Yes, some people gave pennies.
As he finished playing, there was silence. No applause, no acknowledgment.
The violin player was Joshua Bell, playing a 3.5 million dollar Stradivari violin. One of the world’s finest violinist’s, playing some of greatest music ever written on one of the world’s best violins. And almost total ignored while he played. Even the people waiting in line to buy lottery tickets didn’t turn to pay attention to the fiddler behind them.
Jashua Bell was making a lot of noise. If we can ignore this kind of beauty when it’s singing out loudly for attention, what sorts of other things are we missing as we hurry through life?