This was an wonderful experiment that demonstrated how poor our perception of the present moment could be. And how easy it is to miss out on spotting uniqueness and talent in unexpected contexts.
Joshua Bell is a celebrated violinist of the world. His shows are always sold out for an average cost of $100 per seat.
In this experiment he played 6 of the most beautiful and intricate Bach pieces for 45 minutes with a violin worth $3.5 million at a metro station and only 6 people stopped for a while to listen to him and 20 threw in a total of $32 dollars for him to pick up at the end of the recital. There were none to stand and applaud and give him a standing ovation.
However small children of the age of three wanted to stop by and listen to him but their parents would not allow that and kept dragging them away while they kept turning their heads back to listen.
This is a beautiful story that shows how inattentive we are to the present moment and how we even ignore gems lying around us. We fail to recognize talent. We fail to recognize opportunities. We fail to appreciate others. We fail to discover ourselves. We are simply too preoccupied.
If only we were a bit less preoccupied with the useless burden of thoughts and memories of so many other things the world might be a wonderful place to live in and our lives might have been a little better.
But only if…
Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?
This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station (on Jan. 12, 2007) 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 appropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?