"He emerged from the Metro at the L’Enfant Plaza Station and positioned himself against a wall beside a trash basket. By most measures, he was nondescript: a youngish white man in jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a Washington Nationals baseball cap. From a small case, he removed a violin. Placing the open case at his feet, he shrewdly threw in a few dollars and pocket change as seed money, swiveled it to face pedestrian traffic, and began to play."
This is a quote from Gene Weingarten in a story on Washingtonpost.com. The Washington Post had conducted an experiment in which world famous violinist, Joshua Bell, entered a busy Washington, D.C. metro station at 7:51 am on a Friday. In the middle of morning rush hour. Joshua Bell played six classical pieces in 43 minutes as 1,097 people passed by. He had earned a total of $32.17 (not including $20 from one person who did recognize who he was.)
Weingarten goes on to say,
"A onetime child prodigy, at 39 Joshua Bell has arrived as an internationally acclaimed virtuoso. Three days before he appeared at the Metro station, Bell had filled the house at Boston’s stately Symphony Hall, where merely pretty good seats went for $100. Two weeks later, at the Music Center at Strathmore, in North Bethesda, he would play to a standing-room-only audience so respectful of his artistry that they stifled their coughs until the silence between movements."
Weingarten echoed Kant’s words:
"Conditions must be optimal for the recognition of beauty. It is not that Americans are unable to appreciate beauty per se, just that appreciating art while on the way to a busy day is extremely difficult. In a concert hall, space has been carved out for appreciation: the audience is attentive because they have nowhere else to go."
"Space as been carved out for appreciation." Wow!
What distractions keep us from appreciating the beauty all around us everyday? And what if we allowed that appreciation to influence our giving everyday? Because even in the midst of beauty, there are needs.
The people in the Metro station that day were so focused on their agendas they didn’t recognize the beauty of Joshua Bell playing a violin worth more than $3.5 million. Are you too busy to appreciate beauty? Are you too busy to give everyday?