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Take the Time to Listen


In my Baha’i-inspired life coaching practice, I often work with people who are too busy to appreciate the beauty all around them, and they come to me for ideas on how to bring more moderation into their lives.  I often recommend they stop what they are doing, and listen to some music.

There are a number of passages in the Baha’i Writings in praise of music.  ‘Abdu’l-Baha for example, asserts that “music, sung or played, is spiritual food for soul and heart.  (Baha’u’llah, Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 201)

But what happens when we don’t take time to listen?  To “eat” the spiritual food provided to us?  This story came into my email this morning and I thought it was worth passing along.  You can read more about this story, and hear the music at:

Something to think about…

Washington DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007: He played
six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approx 2,000  people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After 3 minutes a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.

4 minutes later:

The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the
till and, without stopping, continued to walk.

6 minutes:

A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his
watch and started to walk again.

10 minutes:

A 3 year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly, as
the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception,forced them to move on.

45 minutes:

The musician played.  Only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About
20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32.

1 hour:

He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. 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 Joshua
Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $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 people’s priorities. The questions raised: in a
common place environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty?

Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent in an unexpected

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best
musicians in the world playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ….

How many other things are we missing?

What are your thoughts?  Post your comments here: