“Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar.”
— Percy Bysshe Shelley
The Washington Post recently ran an experiment with the help of the virtuoso violinist, Joshua Bell. A hidden camera placed in a Washington D.C. metro station recorded the brilliant musician as he played for, well, nothing. Like a street musician, he opened the case in front of him, put in a few dollars, and started playing. Brilliantly.
Did anyone stop to listen? See for yourself that of the purported 1,097 people to pass by in the next 43 minutes, only a handful stopped, and only a few of those recognized the world famous musician. It is reported he only made $32. The violin is reported to be worth $3.5 million.
Does that mean we’re too busy to notice brilliance? Too self-absorbed to stop for something incredible? Are we really that insensitive to beauty?
Not really. It just means we’re not looking for it.
Yet, we can see it when we do look for it. We know music has the power to uplift our spirit. We know poetry has the power to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. We know art can express the hidden beauty of our world.
What we may not know is that there’s beauty in the common things around us and the people in our daily lives. But to find it, we have to look through a different lens. That lens, I believe, is our own openness and generosity. Giving is the lens through which we can find beauty.
And will we find it? Yes. Slowly. As our eyes open up to new possibilities. To the wonders that exist right around us. To the beauty that’s already there.
A few of those commuters were open to the possibility of something wonderful on that cold January morning. A few of them gave a few minutes of their time to be amazed.
Look around. What do you see?
As I helped an experienced Toastmaster over lunch today with their contest speech, I realized that I was helping someone with talent. And a really nice guy to boot. I hope to tell his success story here someday soon.