Noticing Beauty

Violin, photo by

Of all places, I received the following from my insurance agent at Allstate. I thought this was a particularly interesting message in the midst of thinking about beauty. It’s all around us, constantly. We just have to stop to notice it:


“A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and played the violin. He played for about 45 minutes. During that time, it was calculated that 1,100 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 musician 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 continued to walk.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother hurried him along, but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents forced them to move on.

In the time the musician played, only 6 people stopped to listen. He collected $32. When he finished playing, silence took over. No one applauded, and there was no recognition.

The violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the most talented musicians in the world. He had just played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, on a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before his playing in the subway, Bell sold out at a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.”

This is a real story. In January 2007, Joshua Bell played incognito in the metro station as a social experiment organized by the Washington Post. In a commonplace environment, do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent?

If we don’t even have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world play, how many other things are we missing? Take this story and apply it to your everyday life. Set aside a few moments each day to stop, breathe, and just appreciate things around you.This will both calm you and give you time to recollect your thoughts and get back to the daily grind feeling refreshed and ready to go.


Stop and look around right now – what beauty do you see around you?

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