Saturday, November 7, 2009

Perception ..something to think about...

Maryknoll News- Of, For and By the Maryknoll Priests and Brothers had an interesting article in which the editor asked us to apply the experiment to Maryknoll.

Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. The man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 48 minutes. During that time approx. 2 thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After 3 minutes a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace, stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.

4 minutes later: The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the hat and , without stopping, continued to walk.

6 minutes: A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

10 minutes: A 3 year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly.

45 minutes: The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace.The man collected a total of $32.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest 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, Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a true 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 people's priorities. The questions raised: in a common place environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from the experiment could be this: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made.... How many other things are we missing?

1 comment:

  1. Good to be nudged awake, even for a few moments, by such a powerful reminder to stop and smell the flowers.

    "How many other things are we missing?" Another possible conclusion may be that the context in which things have their being and without which there would be no thingness to begin with would be missed. Some Buddhists refer to this context as present moment awareness, as "Eternity in one instant; the instant is right now." And D.H. Lawrence adds: "One great mystery of time is terra ingognita to us--the instant."

    Even Paul, in Cor. 6:2 referring to Isaiah's "time accepted" and "day of salvation," explains that "now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation." Rather than denying the theological implications of the passage, if understood in a more psychological sense as a reference to present moment awareness--time beyond time--perhaps we may be better able to grasp the "time" and "timelessness" of Christ's time on earth as pointing to the timelessness of the "day of salvation" for all of us.

    In any event, I intend to bring to mind, often, the lesson contained in that article. Many thanks for reprinting it here.