Stop and Smell the Roses; Or Listen to the Violins

Concert in the Metro

On a chilly January morning, 2007, in the Washington, D.C. subway (metro) a man stood playing a violin. He was nondescript: a youngish white man in jeans, a long-sleeved T-shirt and a Washington Nationals baseball cap.*  

It was morning rush hour, and as happens every day at this time, at least one thousand passersby went through the station. Few stopped; few listened. In some cases little children pulled at mommy’s hand to linger and enjoy the music, but they were hurried along.

The playing – it was Bach that was being played – continued for about 45 minutes during which time only six individuals actually stopped for a time and listened. A few people tossed money into the open violin case – the musician came away that day netting around $27. Two days previous, he had played at a sold-out theater in Boston where tickets went for about $100 each.

Would I have Missed It?

Be A NovelistYes, this violinist was none other than the world-famous Joshua Bell and he was playing on his 3.5 million dollar Stradivarius violin that had been handcrafted in 1713. Bell is a child prodigy who in his adult years has played in concert halls the world over, including the crown heads of Europe. And yet here in this place, he barely gets a nod.

This story unnerves me. If I had been there that day, would I have missed this opportunity to hear and see a multimillion dollar violin played by a world-famous musician? If so, what else am I missing in my day-to-day life? As a novelist, I cannot afford to miss these sweet gifts along the way.

Soaking in the Scene

Yesterday, out my back patio doors, I could see the soft purple of a redbud tree in full Be A Novelistbloom. (Redbud trees are abundant in Oklahoma.) It was surrounded by, and contrasted with, the spring green of newly-leafed out shade trees. The backdrop of these colors was the slate bluish-gray of gathering spring rain clouds. I stood there for a time soaking in the scene. I didn’t want it to get away. Such colors last only a short time.

A Noticer

My granddaughter, now ten, is a dyed-in-the-wool noticer.  From the time she was a wee little thing, she noticed the tiniest things. Her mother would say, “She finds the darnedest things.”

One day we were in a vacant, for-sale house. Said granddaughter was about three at the time. In the carpet she found tiny little beads. Tiny. She was down on the floor searching for more beads and putting them in her little pockets.  We adults would have trod on those little beads for hours and would not have seen nary a one.

When she and I go walking in the park, she sees the tiniest of tiny flowers. (You and I might call them weeds, but then what do we know?) Then she picks them and points out to me the designs on the tiny petals.

Stop and Listen

Be A NovelistWe are all busy. Agreed. But at some point we might want to stop and take a look around (or take a listen). We just might hear a 3.5 million dollar Stradivarius being played by a world-renown musician – for free. Or — we might hear a bird call outside our window. Equally beautiful; equally entrancing.

Rest of the Story

*Learn the rest of this story about Joshua Bell in the D.C. metro right here.

Photo Credit: © Jolin | Dreamstime Stock Photos

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