Friday, March 13, 2009

Unlikely Encounters

My brother coyote TRXTR of Groundless Observations sent me a story that you may have come across. The Washington Post won a Pulitzer for, Pearls Before Breakfast by Gene Weingarten. Weingarten wrote of a social experiment conducted in the subway where superstar violinist Joshua Bell posed as a street musician. The point? To see how passers-by would react.

Fascinating! What a great thing to blog about (I’m sure bunches did when the story ran in 2007, but who cares?). What a perfect illustration of man’s inability to appreciate the beauty at the side of the road and all that. Except Weingarten pretty much covers it. Yeah, Pulitzer. Please give it a read if you have a few minutes.

OK, I will say one thing - or so. You could take this story as just another sad sign of our society’s inability to appreciate the fantastic world on the other side of our skin. Disillusionment galore. I do not think so. I think it’s beautiful. Yes, we fail to appreciate. Yes, we prioritize the wrong things, rushing by the extraordinary on the way to the must-be-endured. Yes, we forget – or refuse – to use our senses, to dream, to be, to rise. Yes, yes.

But, every once in a while some thing happens. We encounter something that pulls us up short. We slow down for a minute for no apparent reason. Every once in a while a story like this comes along, or we hear music in the underbelly of the city, and we see what we have become and what we have given up. And, if we are smart or lucky, we get an inkling of what’s our there for us and what we can be.

That one moment of jaw-dropping insight or Mack-truck lesson is worth all the empty bullshit we have allowed ourselves to be buried in this year. But only if we stop and listen next time. I wish I were one of those confronted with their own deafness that day.


Carolyn said...

Fe, thank you for your thoughful have said it all! You have stopped just at a different place! Have a great weekend.

Maryanne said...

Hi Fe -- I have read this story, and I know I often have those stop in your tracks moments. Yesterday. Again I wish I had a camera with me. Seeing deer in Chester Co is not such a big deal. But about 50 of them gathered in a field, that is worthy of stopping. (Was it a party?)

Anonymous said...

I hadn't read this article. Thank you & thank your brother. I printed it out so I'll take it to art class to give it to Lori.
I'll always wonder if I would have been like the kids. Wasn't it interesting that every one of them tried to stop and listen? I know that even at 64 I haven't had all the poetry squeezed out of me. That's why I enjoy your site so much!

fellow traveler said...

Yes, I too have watched the video with fascination as Joshua Bell played for passers-by in the subway. I've heard that this type of experiment was also done with a million dollar painting hung in a local restaurant. It's interesting how context determines value.

I am caught by your comment that we rush by the extraordinary on our way to the must-be-endured. It seems to me that the must-be-endured might be better endured if we stay open to all the extraordinary moments along the way.

Thanks for the reminder, Fe!

CoyoteFe said...

Thank you! And, dagnabbit, aren't I always stopping in some other place? Makes it hard to catch trains. Ha!

Shall I tell all and sundry that you, Artist Queen, have those stop-in-your-track moments mid-conversation? Ha! THat's why I like you. And the herds of Chesco DO have parties!

Halloo, Tina!
Thank you! Love your work in Lori's class! I THINK I would certainly stop, but I fear that I would be horribly late for something (shocking) and blow by. Of course, some times it's those types of things that MAKE me horribly late!

I wish it weren't so that we consider context when determining beauty. Makes me wonder about all the innately beautiful things we miss because they are not in the right "frames," You point about the extraordinary making the endured more endurable? Yes!