In 2007, The Washington Post conducted a social experiment to see how people might appreciate beauty in an unlikely context: “In a banal setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?” On the morning of January 12th
, Grammy Award Winning violinist, Joshua Bell, dressed in casual clothes and a ball cap, played 6 classical pieces over 43 minutes in Washington D.C.’s L’Enfant Metro Station during rush hour. Out of 1,097 people that passed by, seven people stopped to listen for at least a minute. Twenty-seven people gave money, most of them rushing by, for a total of about $32. That left 1,070 people who made no indication that they noticed the acclaimed virtuoso. Except for the children; every child that passed by attempted to stop, but was hurried along by their parent. Three nights prior, Joshua had played to a full house at Boston’s Symphony Hall where “pretty good” seats went for $100 a pop.
The Washington Post article written on this experiment explores some fascinating social implications, including the role of context in behavior. It has me considering that rush hour at the metro is a created context, and a night at the music hall is a created context. And context is decisive. We are more likely to recognize beauty at the music hall because we’re expecting it and therefore looking for it. We often miss beauty at the metro (ordinary tasks of the day) because we’re not expecting it and therefore not looking for it. What if we created a context for our lives of living from the music hall every day? What if ALL of life is a music hall? What if we bring “I’m at the music hall” to every moment of life—people, projects, commuting, grocery shopping, oil changes—all of it? We can create that context if we choose to.
What if we created a context for our lives of living from the music hall every day?
“But I’m too busy to live from a music hall! That’s not realistic. I have too much to do.” Yes, we say things like that. Let me propose another perspective. “Too much to do” is a concept we’ve invented in language that doesn’t actually exist in reality. It exists in our words, therefore it exists in our perception
of reality. But in reality, there is only ever what I’m doing and what I’m not doing. The situation may occur to me as if
there is too much to do, but only because I call it so. What is actually taking place in any given moment, however, is only what I’m doing and what I’m not doing. Consider how it might impact your life to be free from the perception “I have too much to do.” That freedom gets created exclusively through language.
Given that there are things we are doing and things we are not doing, many of us have created a pace for our lives that will not work long term, and may already not be working now. It is a pace of constant motion and activity, with little to no time for rest. We have created a universe of “I can’t slow down,” a continual rush hour at the metro.
We only do things that serve us on some level, conscious or subconscious. So here are some questions to observe your life from. They are a platform to provide you a new perspective, not a judgment of what’s right/wrong or good/bad about your pace and the busyness you engage in.
What is it ABOUT ME that has me being “it’s impossible to slow down” or “I’m too busy to take a break”?
How am I seeing myself and the situation that busyness appears as the solution?
What is my fear with slowing down?
How does it serve me to stay busy?
How does it cost me to stay busy?
How would slowing down impact the quality of my life?
We only do things that serve us on some level, conscious or subconscious.
What do you see from the platform that busyness—rarely slowing down—is serving you in some way? You might rally back with, “Well that’s just the way I am.” Well that’s just an attempt to defend the platform you’re already standing on. I’m inviting you over to this other place, to stand on this other platform, and notice your life from that position. I know that may be a very strange way to use a question, as a platform elevating your perspective rather than as a threat demanding an answer, but it gets really fun the more you play with it this way. So I’m inviting you to play with it this week. You can take up your old position anytime; it’s not going anywhere.
But by simply being with these questions, looking from this new position, you will begin to notice things about your life you couldn’t see from the old platform. You will have access to a dimension you couldn’t access before. There is nothing to change. But with new access, you can make new choices. And it’s your choices that create the life you have. Enjoy!
To Your Great Life!