Forever … that’s how long it’s been since I blogged. I took the month off from CFBA posts. That’ll start up again soon. Honestly, we’ve been up to our eyeballs this summer and I needed to extend myself a bit of grace. This is one area that I needed to let slide. I’ll talk more about that later. It really has been an amazing summer; full of surprises, challenges, hard work, growth, shrinkage … oh, so many stories to tell. I’ll try to get to all of that soon enough.

Today I want to tell you about a link that a friend referred me to on Facebook. Okay, so she referred a LOT of people to it, but I take these things personally. 🙂 Here’s how the story goes:

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to splay violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for 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.

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was music playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule. A minute later, the violinist received his first tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk. A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but 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. ALl the parents, without exception, forced them tom ove on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence too over, no one noticed it. No on 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 (checked out on Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of an 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?

One of the possible conlcusions from this experience could be: If we do not a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing the best music ever written, how manny other things are we missing?


The Washington Post won a Pulitzer in the feature writing category of Gene Wiengarten’s April 2007 story about this experiement. The article was called “Pearls Before Breakfast.” Snopes reported on it at

I’m not going to insult anyone’s intelligence by throwing out the “take away” from this story. In fact, I think there are many take aways. I will tell you that I’m slowing down … being intentional in the moment … exercising mindfulness … practicing spiritual journaling as sa discipline … stretching … growing. Yup, it’s been a busy summer.