Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Violinist in the Metro

I love this story, and just had to share. What a great example of the importance of the work of cultivating mindfulness in our lives.
What daily things of beauty are you missing out on? Not sure where to start or how to slow down? For starters: find a good spiritual director!

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousand 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 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 dollar 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 to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one 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. 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?

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Some dreams are just MEANT to be shared

I haven’t blogged in almost a year, but had the most beautiful dream last night that I absolutely cannot forget, so I drug myself out of bed to force myself to type it all out before I forgot the details of it with each passing second of consciousness. I hope it speaks to you the way it spoke to me.

It started off very dark and scary. The main character in my dream is the man I believe to be my shadow. He is tall, dark and handsome. Always dressed nicely, and usually a very powerful figure. In this first part of the dream I think I am some sort of apprentice to him, he is on some sort of journey to prove himself and in the end he dies. I myself am the one to bury him. While I am telling the crowds of his death, what I believe to be the failure of his mission (I am cursing him I think), he appears before us just as he looked before. Everyone begins to link arms and sway, singing “ Let It Rain” and worshipping him. I am aghast and in total fear because I just buried this man…this Christ figure that I am the Peter to.

Then begins the second part of this dream. I have died…I think my Shadow might have killed me actually for my lack of belief and cursing him…but I’m not for sure. But I get the sense that I'm in trouble. We are at my Grandparents house in Bemidji and when I come “back to life” I emerge out of their bathroom and find him there to greet me. He is there to teach me a lesson, but I can’t understand what he is saying to me. He is barking like a dog! All that I hear is barking and we are playing almost some kind of game of charades: me trying to understand the message and him trying to communicate it-VERY frustrated with me. And so I follow him on this sort of list of tasks. One of them is diving off my grandparents deck into the ocean and swimming. It is a very physical, Olympic sort of journey and each day we reach the end of it and I still haven’t grasped the message. So then the next day comes and I again emerge out of the bathroom and we begin again the same Olympic course, him trying to communicate something and me not understanding. Every day that goes by I grow older, quite rapidly, and his bark gets higher and higher pitched (this is annoying), with a sense of urgency. It felt like I must’ve dreamed this dream for hours because of how many days I went through, simply dreaming the same thing over and over again. Finally, I reach my 50’s and am growing weary of this daily regimen. I say to my Shadow, “I am aging and I am tired. Is there really any point to me living every day of my life trying to discover some profound point to my existence? Trying to ascertain the deep meaning behind why I have come back from the dead if all this task is going to do is utterly exhaust me? Just tell me already, what’s the meaning of this!?” And he finally speaks words I understand and replies: “I don’t know.” And so I ask permission: “would it be OK if I just lived out my remaining days and simply enjoyed the little life I have left.” And suddenly it becomes clear! We both look at each other eyes wide, as if a light bulb has gone off and finally know what the point of this assignment was. I have learned the most profound life lesson at all…to stop approaching the everyday tasks of life as if they are some militaristic mission of things to be accomplished and ENJOY life! slow down enough to know that each moment of existence…that the “now” is all that matters. Life isn’t a checklist…it’s a blessing! There is this great sense of release and this dream of epic, cinema drama proportions (with orchestral accompaniment by the way…my dreams always have musical accompaniment) suddenly becomes less scary and sinister and takes on a light, and a lesson that is so beautiful I want to jump up and down and squeal with my shadow that I FINALLY GET IT! (though he’s not really the type…so we don’t…but I wanted to ;)

I love my Shadow!

Much Love,