"A man sat at a metro station in Washington, D.C., 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 a 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. 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.
In the 45 minutes the musician played, only six 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.
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.
Joshua Bell was playing incognito in the metro station as part of a social experiment about perception, taste, and priorities of people.
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?
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?"
This article was received as an email from a friend and is worth sharing.
Editor's Note: Dick Hedges is the former mayor of Fort Scott and former president of Fort Scott Community College.