Friday, December 2, 2011

Do You Hear What I Hear?...or wish that I heard, or heard once and am trying to reconnect to.

As you've read, if you have been reading, we are saying 'no' to commercialism this holiday season...and here's the thing, we aren't really saying 'no' to commercialism as much as we are saying 'yes' to something more  substantial, something more abundant and something that will not fade, or break, or become a passing fad.  I ask myself each day, What gift would I like to leave my children?

The short of it is: to focus on what is truly important, and that's Love.  To love themselves, family, friends, God, beauty, truth (whatever that may mean to them), and to find the joy in learning to love better every day.  Our project is designed to refocus what we already know: that true happiness can't be found in the material, but in the intangible beauty of thought and feeling. 

I am not an extremist--not by any means (except maybe in my hatred of math).  One of the guiding principles of my life is that by small things can big things happen.  I feel like so much of my time and (other people's) is consumed by things that really don't matter.  With our family Christmas experiment, I'm just calling out the material stuff first and tweaking this one thing that makes the rest of our season feel out of whack.  There are a million distractions out there that can make our hearts wander, but lucky for us, we get to start anew each day and begin again.

I came across a story on Pinterest yesterday that really drives home my point. (And yes, even cool Pinterest can become a life suck without moderation, but seriously, what do you know that can't?)  Anyway, here's the story:

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 thousands 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 top 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 a 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?

Here's the video:

So, this little refocus during this season of joy is an attempt to reconnect, say 'yes' to the present moment and slow down enough to really, really notice the beauty all around us and focus on the Love.

What beautiful thing did you see, hear, taste, touch, smell or experience today?


  1. Thanks for sharing this. Loved Lenora's Harp last night.

  2. I'd like to think I would have stopped. His music spectacular. Great post. :)