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Meandering thoughts

Slow down to hear the music

As life gets busier and deadlines tighter, do you slow down to hear the music?

I recently read this story on Facebook.  It made me stop in my tracks and wonder – when is the last time I stopped to smell the roses or hear the music of a street performer during the hustle and bustle of my busy day?  When I am in work mode, I am no different than all those people who rush by, not even blinking as they hear the music wafting through the air.  Places to go, people to see…..you know the drill.

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 1,100 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, and 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 most talented musicians in the world. He had just played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, on a violin worth $3.5 million dollars.
Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $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?
By: Josh Nonnenmocher, Washington Post

As I read more accounts of peoples live’s in the blogosphere, I read more and more of people who make life altering changes – quit their careers in the rat race to travel, to experience life and to live in the moment.  We are talking senior executives and established careers here!  What an amazing feat – to shed what took a lifetime to build to get out there and really live life!

At what time do we need to slow down?  What are we missing when our tunnel vision takes over?

While riding my bike across Canada, I had the opportunity to see so much wildlife while the cars buzzed by, oblivious to what they were missing.

I was fortunate enough to take an early career break to travel the world, see and experience different cultures, pedal across Canada and hike in the Andes.  With a friend for part of the trip, solo for the rest, I lived in the moment, explored to my hearts content and grew considerably as a person.  The opportunity to experience the world helped me to grow, and make me the person who I have become.  While I am back in my career now, I look forward to many years of experiencing more of the world, continuing to grow, and perhaps give back through volunteering.  (Friends without borders/Angkor hospital – this post really inspired me!)

As for stopping to hear the music – I know I don’t do enough of that as I run from client to client.  Have I missed the opportunity to hear a world class musician – unlikely, but perhaps I have missed the opportunity to take a moment to live in the moment.  I started my round the world tour in Chile.  While passing through the busy square in Santiago, I was amazed at the buskers in the street – literally stopping traffic with their performance.  How great it was to be in the midst of all the excitement as a mime cajoled the crowds into laughter, then jumped into a car as if it were a taxi, stunning the driver.  All in good fun.  Some drivers sat there in silence, others drove up the street and let the mime out.  After a few minutes, it was all over, the crowds dispersed and people were on their way!

Crowd beginning to gather for buskers in Santiago, Chile

What are we missing when we are so busy doing our thing?  I thought the article was interesting food for thought and wanted to share.  The the question remains – do you stop to hear the music?

About Anita Mac

The bucket list just keeps growing! The more I cross off - the more exciting new destinations and activities I find! I have been fortunate enough to travel a considerable distance over the years. My love of many things, including travel, cycling, kayaking and photography fit together like hand and glove. I have to keep asking myself....where to next? I am happy to share my travels and photography through my blogs: http://traveldestinationbucketlist.com and http://anitamacphotos.wordpress.com Hope you enjoy them as much as I do! On to the next adventure!


32 thoughts on “Slow down to hear the music

  1. Great post and what an interesting experiment on music and people rushing about (I read that article on FB and was struck by it). I have found myself trying to slow down and really enjoy all that I can but so many are rushing from one experience to the next they miss it completely. Thanks for sharing this post. Great food for thought!

    Posted by f-stop mama | February 22, 2012, 9:49 am
    • Thanks. Glad you enjoyed – I was hoping it would ignite some interesting conversation. We move at warp speed – I even marvel at the RTW travellers and European bus tour people who whirl through 6 cities in 10 days – I really wonder how much they experienced vs saw!

      Posted by Anita Mac | February 22, 2012, 6:13 pm
  2. What a great post and interesting experiment. What a sad comment on what our lives have become.

    Posted by blisstravelsnews | February 22, 2012, 9:52 am
  3. Slowing down is one of the best decisions for life on many levels: physical, spiritual, emotional, psychological, intellectual. Works for all kinds of tricky situations!

    Posted by scillagrace | February 22, 2012, 9:56 am
    • That’s awesome! I think you are right too! A number of years ago, a coworker gave me a post card – “do less, achieve more” and she was so right! I see it when I start to do too much (although usually I don’t see it right away – I am too busy ploughing through!!!) Good for you to be living it!

      Posted by Anita Mac | February 22, 2012, 6:17 pm
  4. You’re right, people never slow down to enjoy anything long enough to truly appreciate what’s out there. I really envy how you’re travelling along the roads and taking it all in, very inspirational! 🙂

    By the way, I’ve been to this place in Santiago as a kid. Boy, I miss my home country!

    Posted by andy1076 | February 22, 2012, 10:03 am
    • I try Andy! I have noticed it slowly creep in that I am not taking as much in – but when I read this article, I really thought – it is a great opportunity to reset expectations! I try to make a point every day of taking one thing in! Reviving my love of photography certainly helped. I find myself stepping back to look at the subject differently more often now!

      Posted by Anita Mac | February 22, 2012, 6:19 pm
  5. What a fabulous story, and I feel people are in their own bubble, and see things that fit every day of their lives. But when something happens out of this bubble they do not believe it, and most would argue. You go to a concert or play and expect to see a famous actor or guitarist/singer. But to see them in the street as a normal person, which some are, we just do not want to believe it. Absolute fabulous read, it is thought provoking thank you.

    Posted by cobbies69 | February 22, 2012, 10:36 am
    • Thanks – that is exactly what I was looking for – something to stop and reflect on! The frenetic way of life will still go on – taking pause, or looking outside the bubble – only enhances our lives and experiences. Glad you enjoyed!

      Posted by Anita Mac | February 22, 2012, 6:22 pm
  6. It is a great story! I read it the other day too and felt the same way. We are so busy rushing around we don’t even enjoy what is so close to us. That is why I especially lovel traveling!!! You enjoy things and live in the moment. That is why vacation should be mandatory at least every three months!!!

    Posted by Virginia | February 22, 2012, 11:08 am
  7. Great story! So eye opening, and really makes me think. Thank you.

    Posted by faithrises | February 22, 2012, 2:56 pm
  8. I heard about this story too and had the same sort of reflections that you found yourself with. I, myself, am a career woman (temporarily traveling the world) who wonders about the things I’m missing in the hustle and bustle of day-to-day-living. You’re so right about the importance of travel…seeing, being, experiencing. If only that paid the rent too. 🙂

    Posted by Laura | February 22, 2012, 4:30 pm
  9. I too read the story on FB. I have also been fortunate to take a time out from work, purely my own choice and that of my husband. We are in Canada living here for a year. Don’t know what will happen when that year is up in a few months, but I know that I would have regretted not taking the opportunity when it arose. I don’t want to have those regrets hanging over me later in life.
    Thank you for this post. I’ve completely slowed down and, I hope, I’m listening to some ‘music’.

    Posted by katehobbs | February 22, 2012, 5:51 pm
    • Glad you are able to be in Canada, and experience how great it is here (not biased at all!!!!) I did that in Australia – although 1 year expanded considerably – and I don’t regret it for a second! Enjoy the music!

      Posted by Anita Mac | February 22, 2012, 6:33 pm
  10. Amazing life lesson here. Children are often so much smarter than we are. They know what is important.

    Posted by living4bliss | February 22, 2012, 6:27 pm
    • You are totally right! They see the world through eyes that really see the world! I love the wonder and amazement in their faces over things that adults often miss or take for granted. We could learn some great lessons from them!

      Posted by Anita Mac | February 22, 2012, 6:35 pm
      • I am a new grandmother (he’s 18 months old) and I see so much more through him than my own children because I can slow down and enjoy him. Thanks again for this story.

        Posted by living4bliss | February 22, 2012, 6:39 pm
  11. We know it has been over due to stop and smell the roses/music if we have to make a conscious decision to do it.

    Posted by PC PHOTO | February 23, 2012, 8:33 am
  12. Hey there! I have nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award. If you wish to accept it, details are on the following link!

    Posted by Adventure & Tea | February 24, 2012, 7:07 am
  13. Sometimes, I find slowing down, taking a deep breath, and enjoying a few quite moments helps to make for a more productive day. Life is too short, not to stop and smell the roses from time to time.

    Posted by orples | February 25, 2012, 10:48 am
  14. Excellent post and serious approach to rethink our way of life
    We calculate our life in years, long periods that seem endless in which we always think we would have time to do things we really like…. If we did it in hours (about 650,000 for an average life) and see how we waste most of our time, possibly we would change our way of life…
    Would it be better to fast-read a book, or if you take your time and get lost in it?

    Posted by Dugutigui | February 26, 2012, 9:08 pm


  1. Pingback: Taking time at Hog’s Back Falls « Shutter bug - February 23, 2012

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