I’m fascinated by the 2007 Washington Post experiment with Joshua Bell. Of course, I’m just smittened with Bell, who is handsome, plays a mean fiddle, and is willing to goof off in Mozart in the Jungle.
The Post placed Bell and his Stradivarius in a subway station to busk. Although his hotel was 2 blocks away, he took a taxi. You don’t walk anywhere toting a 3.6 million dollar piece of wood. They hid cameras, planned for mob intervention, recorded the concert, and identified passersby to interview. Know what happened?
Pretty much nothing. Bell played his heart out for 45 minutes and collected $32. Two people lingered. A few people did slow down and try to stay. Except they weren’t allowed. They were all children, and their adults had to be somewhere else.
The Post wrote a Pulitzer Prize-winning article about how busy we are, the psychology of beauty, the morality of supporting art, and so on. Bell said it was to hard to play when no one listened.
I want to know, how often do we walk right by God and not even see. How often are we completely surrounded by Light and stay stuck in yesterday’s stories. How often does Grace open the checkout line and we hurry past the person next in line. How often are the angels showing the answer and we’re checking the newsfeed. How much is my soulSelf giving Renée a nudge to go to bed when she flips to Netflix and nods in and out for an hour.
All the time.
Like right now. There’s something to see, hear, feel, appreciate. We call it paying attention. As if it requires an offering of energy. We are completely surrounded and infused with beauty, energy, divine currents, love. If I’m not paying attention, I’m going to miss the whole point of being alive.
They redid Bell’s free concert in 2014 with advance notice. Come pay attention. Thousands of people packed the station, children included.