i don't believe i have ever ridden a city's metro system and not heard strains of music from a musician playing within the subway system. paris. kiev. london. toronto. it doesn't matter where you are, the underground seems to call musicians to be the soundtrack for commuters.

in my travels, however, i don't seem to recall ever not quickly walking past these rush hour artists in an effort to get where i was going, even when i was on vacation. perhaps it is the nature of a metro station that makes loitering for any reason seem vaguely wrong.

much like the 'tree falling in the woods and no one hearing it' question, i ran across this article in the washington post online about whether or not commuters would stop and listen if a world-renowned violinist was the one providing their transit melodies.

violinist joshua bell, who shortly before this experiment, played at symphony hall in boston for no less than $100 a seat. but on a friday morning last january, donned in some rather banal attire and accompanied by his stradivarius, he set himself up in washington's l'enfant plaza station beside a trash basket, and gave what should have been an amazing gift to all who passed by.

the article goes on to say that very few of that morning's commuters had any clue that the music that they could not help but hear was played by a master. most rushed past in an effort to get on with their day.
earth's crammed with heaven,
and every common bush afire with God;
but only he who sees,
takes off his shoes—
the rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.

elizabeth barrett browning
it makes me wonder how many amazing moments i rush past in my efforts to live life. would i, on that cold friday morning, have been one of the few who recognized the strains of genius, and in essence, taken off my shoes, or would i have been one of the many unseeing crowd, rushing off to whatever else? i fear that the answer is not the one i would want it to be.

* * * * *

God, open my eyes and ears to the extraordinary moments of life, however small they are. let me not be in such a rush to live my life that i forget that, as frederick buechner said, "all moments are key moments and life itself is grace."


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