Do you have time for beauty?

HE EMERGED FROM THE METRO AT THE L’ENFANT PLAZA STATION AND POSITIONED HIMSELF AGAINST A WALL BESIDE A TRASH BASKET. By most measures, he was nondescript: a youngish white man in jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a Washington Nationals baseball cap. From a small case, he removed a violin. Placing the open case at his feet, he shrewdly threw in a few dollars and pocket change as seed money, swiveled it to face pedestrian traffic, and began to play.

The rest of the story goes on to reveal that world renowned violinist Joshua Bell peformed on a priceless Stradivarius as hundreds passed by barely noticing. While his concerts command prices over $100 a seat, he made $32 in just under an hour.  The article details this experiment and offers some interesting ideas into human psychology.

For me it reminds me that so much of life is hidden in plain sight and we too often we aren’t paying attention.

Each passerby had a quick choice to make, one familiar to commuters in any urban area where the occasional street performer is part of the cityscape: Do you stop and listen? Do you hurry past with a blend of guilt and irritation, aware of your cupidity but annoyed by the unbidden demand on your time and your wallet? Do you throw in a buck, just to be polite? Does your decision change if he’s really bad? What if he’s really good? Do you have time for beauty? Shouldn’t you? What’s the moral mathematics of the moment?

School is beginning for many. Fall is often a start up for many organizations. There will be to do’s, deadlines and pressures. But hopefully we’ll have time to notice really great things that happen everyday. If you’re involved in education I’m guessing there are a few Josh Bell’s in your building.

I hope you’ll make time for beauty. I know I need to. That’s my sermon for today. Stay well.

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  • Thanks Dean for this timely reminder to stop, listen, celebrate and reflect. This made me think about a few students who I have worked with but never really stopped and gave them the recognition they fully deserved. Sometimes we have a habit of accepting amazing talent as commonplace in an attempt to support the student. I see that this is not always the case and that we need to find a balance between appreciating and accepting.
    Thanks for your sermon, makes me again remember to look for colour not shades of grey

    Lauren O’Gradys last blog post..Teacher 2.0 ? Have we gone label mad?

  • Sara Kajder

    Oh how I needed that reminder today… This is much of what I find myself telling my preservice teachers, and you’ve encouraged me to give the tasks a re-read with an eye on slowing them down and helping them to really see students, their teaching context, etc. To that end, I’m changing one of our digital storytelling tasks – using the camera to “read” a school. No faces allowed – but you need to show us what you see. Represent people – use backs of heads, open backpacks, etc. Most importantly, stop and notice what you notice about your teaching space. It is a bit of an experiment – but I’m curious about how reading their images – and across their images – we’ll be able to open up a conversation that should tunnel more deeply than what we’ve done in the past…

  • Dave

    One of the worst parts of growing up is becoming comfortable with the idea that interesting things are always at hand, and therefore not so interesting any more. A friend took me out to the country this weekend to show me a donkey she took care of for several months, and it was hard to get excited, even though it was such a fun, fascinating, unique experience.

    I find the Internet contributes to this. I seek out the best blogs to read and the best articles to base my learning on, which means that the things that I produce, that my peers and friends produce, get judged against the very best in the world, constantly. By shrinking the world, the Internet has raised the bar for everyone, and the higher standard ends up being depressing just as often as it is an inspiration.

  • Dave,

    I’m not so sure I’d blame the internet for this. I think we all can get a bit jaded and busy and miss really great things that happen everyday. I think it’s a choice we make to stop and enjoy life. In the video, there’s a woman who stops and while everyone else moves by her, she is focused on the music and drinks it in. Anyone can do that.

    I agree we have more distractions but it’s too easy to blame external things rather than committing individually to make good and right choices.

  • Dean,
    It was very interesting to read your take on of the above video.

    When I saw the video first, I compared it to many conferences that I attended, where presentations of well known people are standing room only, while other “excellent” ones are barely attended.

    Take a look at the direction the conversation around the same video took on Who Would Listen?

    Silvia Tolisano
    aka Langwitches

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  • Depends on how good the music is. I speed up to get past guitarists and saxaphone players. Anything else I’ll heed for a bit.

  • I am looking for some material on Alto Saxaphones and I’ve just stumbled upon this blog! An interesting read which I thought to be of value. I look forward to have more time to read more.