You may remember when internationally acclaimed virtuoso Joshua Bell sat up camp at a DC’s L’Enfant Plaza Metro station? Bell performed six classical pieces as nearly 1,100 people passed by him. A handful of people paused. One lady stopped to really listen.She had heard him perform at the Library of Congress days before. She understood the value of the man masterfully playing the $3.5 million Strad at the Metro station on a busy Friday morning. But truth be told, the lottery machine drew far more interest than the musician.
Bell began his subway stop by playing “Chaconne” from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Partita No. 2 in D Minor. He described it as “spiritually powerful piece, emotionally powerful, structurally perfect.”
What Bell didn’t say is that it is one of the hardest violin pieces to master. Here’s how the Washington Post described it: “Exhaustingly long — 14 minutes — and consists entirely of a single, succinct musical progression repeated in dozens of variations to create a dauntingly complex architecture of sound. Composed around 1720, on the eve of the European Enlightenment, it is said to be a celebration of the breadth of human possibility.”
Which brings me to what struck me about all of this. Almost everyone passed by Bell with barely a nod of gratitude. We are so quick to do that, brush by people in a hurry to get on with more important matters. Consequential life-changing tasks, right?
We are in such a rush to swap and consume information and/or material goods that
We don’t even notice that person standing in our midst
Exhaling and inhaling.
We don’t understand how hard their lives may be
Or how hard they have worked at the Art of Living.
We don’t acknowledge them
Or the gifts they have to offer.
If only we understood their true value
We’d act differently. We’d treat them respectfully, with honor — the way a person who embodies the breath of God deserves be treated —