To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child , a garden patch, or a redeemed condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, June 05, 2009

Appreciating everyday beauty

Got a forward from a former colleague this morning, which set me thinking. Here goes the story:

"A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC 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 thousands of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. The only one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. However, his mother tagged him along. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In 45 minutes, the musician played but only 6 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! No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best 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 his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100.

This is a real 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 priorities of people.

The outlines were:
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?

In our routine life, we are caught in so many daily mundane transactions that we do not have time to think about life goals, our beliefs, close relations and miss out on reaping benefits of valuable interactions & learning's!"

So true. In our rush to keep up with 'life', as we define it, we mostly forget to appreciate everyday beauty. Even I, who is pontificating on this topic, mostly forget the easily available beauties in life - my son riding horse on me, his face when asleep, a flower in our lawn, the movement of a clouds, or of the moon among them, a creature (e.g. a chameleon) in our yard (I've taken to photographing these - the last three I have).

Over-emotional as it may sound, life is too short and goes too fast for us to keep postponing our 'enjoyment' of it. Don't know when it may end, or suddenly lose charm (like when we suddenly realise we are 'old'). Better to smell the flowers whenever we can.

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