August 31, 2008

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.