Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.
Monday, April 09, 2007
"Pearls Before Breakfast"
Street musicians and performers are familiar to anyone who has regularly used public transportation. I've heard Simon and Garfunkel on pan flute, watched accordianists, and of course, heard many of the all popular violin players. And my reaction to them has mostly been to notice, but to just keep on walking. The Washington Post found that the vast majority of the 1,097 commuters who passed by Joshua Bell did was exactly the same thing. Their pace didn't slow, their eyes weren't averted toward the musician. They just kept up walking, heading towards the escalator, focusing on getting somewhere. Somewhere else.
As I read this article, I was moved. I kept hoping that someone would stop, that some person would respond to the amazing music that was being played out in a lowly, grimy, smelly Metro station. And as much as I would love to believe that I would be different, that I would have instinctively known something beautiful and precious and amazing was being created, and would have stopped to listen, one description of a commuter stopped me flat.
A woman and her preschooler emerge from the escalator. The woman is walking briskly and, therefore, so is the child. She's got his hand.
"I had a time crunch," recalls Sheron Parker, an IT director for a federal agency. "I had an 8:30 training class, and first I had to rush Evvie off to his teacher, then rush back to work, then to the training facility in the basement."
Evvie is her son, Evan. Evan is 3.
You can see Evan clearly on the video. He's the cute black kid in the parka who keeps twisting around to look at Joshua Bell, as he is being propelled toward the door.
"There was a musician," Parker says, "and my son was intrigued. He wanted to pull over and listen, but I was rushed for time."
So Parker does what she has to do. She deftly moves her body between Evan's and Bell's, cutting off her son's line of sight. As they exit the arcade, Evan can still be seen craning to look.
I am almost entirely sure that this is exactly what I would have done. Firmly grasped my childrens' hands, tried to distract them with something else, and just kept on moving. And recognizing myself so clearly, I felt profound sorrow.
I wonder about how many times I myself have unknowingly passed by some event or scene of majesty and profound beauty, completely ignorant, intent on hurrying along, not taking time to stop, pause, and notice the world around me. More hauntingly, I wonder how often I have forced my children to match my pace, depriving them of experiencing firsthand the world around them.
In a more spiritual realm, too, I wonder what of God's small miracles I have missed because I was too occupied with mundane tasks and daily frustrations.
The staff of the Washington Post found one interesting thing in their observation of the passersby. All the children turned back to look at Bell, and tried to stop and watch. Every single one. To my dismay, not one single parent stopped, but hurried them on their way.
Like most children, mine do not have the false sense of urgency that I often force upon our days. They are content to stroll along, picking up rocks, playing in the water, and looking at dogs. They like to giggle and dance and chase each other and jump on the couch. Their eyes are newer, and they are more attuned to the world around them.
I admit, I have a hard time stopping and and enjoying the moment for what it is. The Post article quotes W.H.Davies
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
I do love this idea, that pausing to take in the world around us will more often give us life than hurrying from one location to another, either physically or metaphysically.
So, for discussion: tell me what you think of this article. And tell me what you do to halt the busyness of life and to heighten your sensitivity to the pearls in the world around you.