A man sat at Washington DC Metro Station on a cold morning with a violin playing six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. Over this period approximately two thousand people went through that station most of them on their way to work. After 3 minutes a middle aged man noticing a musician playing slowed his pace, stopped for a few seconds and then he went off to meet his schedule. At exactly 4 minutes later the violinist received his first dollar from a woman who threw the money in the hat while walking on. 6 minutes later a young man leaned against the wall to listen but then looked at his watch and walked off. At exactly 10 minutes, a 3-year old boy stopped as his mother tugged him along hurriedly while he looked back at intervals until they were out of sight. This action was repeated by several other children with their parents without exception. 45 minutes after this musician started playing only 6 people had stopped to listen for a short while. 20 gave money but continued walking at their normal pace. After 1 hour, the man successfully collected a total sum of $32. After he finished, silence filled the station. No one noticed, applauded nor was there any recognition. No one knew that the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians of all times who played one of the most intricate pieces ever written that morning with a violin worth $3.5 million. Two days before this experience, Joshua Bell sold out tickets for a theatre concert in Boston.
Joshua Bell played incognito in the metro station courtesy of the Washington Post as part of a social campaign about human perception, taste and priorities. The question addressed was, in a common place at an inappropriate hour do people still perceive and appreciate beauty? Can we recognize talent in an unexpected setting? One possible conclusion was that we often all miss out on valuable things in life’s journey. This week we must learn how to walk through each day with our hearts open combined with seeing eyes to recognise opportunities. Eyes which look are common but the ones who actually see are rare. The valuables of the earth are not easily recognised by many people but it is the honour of kings to seek understanding.