13 April, 2007

The Washington Post did an experiment back in January where the put a classically trained, well-known musician in a high trafficked Metro stop here in DC to see how many people would stop to listen to him. They put him in street clothes (jeans, sweatshirt, baseball cap) and just let him play. No pomp, no signs, nothing. He looked, to most the world, like any other musician at any other metro stop. Using a hidden camera they waited and watched.

There results can be found here. It’s an interesting article. It’s worth scrolling through to listen to him play (amazing). His name is Joshua Bell and he’s a world renowned violinist. Sadly, most people just walked through, too busy to stop and listen to some of the most amazing music in DC. The article says a ticket to one of Bell’s concerts would run around $100 and they could have listened to free.

But the bigger point of this article (or at least what stuck with me since I read it on Monday) is what we miss by being in such a hurry. I walk to work every morning with my i-Pod blasting in my ears. I don’t look up or notice what’s going on. I run down the escalators (yes, I run down moving stairs – I get it) and get onto the metro, avoiding eye contact with everyone around me. I get off on my stop, run up the escalators (again, I get it.) and while I pack my i-Pod away I pull out my cell and call a family member.
Point? I don’t notice what’s going on. I don’t stop, I don’t engage. I probably would have been one of the people to walk right by Bell and wonder why he couldn’t get a real job (it’s true). Yesterday a man was playing a trumpet at my metro stop (not a rare sight in DC). And I took my i-Pod out of my ears to enjoy the music on my way up the escalator but didn’t stop and listen (though he was playing one of my favorite songs). Why? So I could get home two minutes sooner? So I didn’t have to confront that awkward if I listen do I to give you money moment. But, truth be told what is a dollar or two to me (really)?

Maybe I’m reading too much into the article. But I don’t think so. We are in such a rush, in a rush to get to work, too focused when we are there. We rush by our co-workers, ignore the baristas at the coffee house, speed and cut people off on our home and pass by hundreds of chances during the day to know someone else.

There is a security guard in my building (actually two) and I pass them every day. They are both women, mid-40’s, friendly. And I hate to admit that until my third week here I didn’t realize they were not the same person (and they look very different). And still, I cannot tell you their names. I say good morning and good night to them, but to stop and actually meet them scares me. I am too timid to stop when I am swiping my card to get in and say, “I’m Amanda, what’s your name?” And then remember it and greet them by name.

And that’s what I keep coming back to: Why? Why are we in such a rush? Why are we so scared of who we don’t know? I am called to love my neighbor as myself – how can I love someone I don’t know and am too scared to meet?
All this from a Washington Times article.

Good grief.

(but listen to the music it really is incredible)

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© Amanda Lunday