Beauty: How Perception Shapes It


In 2007, concert violinist Joshua Bell played incognito on a Washington, D.C. subway platform and performed classical music for passersby. “No one knew it,” explained Washington Post reporter Gene Weingarten several months after the event, “but the fiddler standing against a bare wall outside the Metro in an indoor arcade at the top of the escalators was one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made.”

The purpose: To see how people would react.

The majority of people in the subway during his 45 minute performance didn’t react at all. Over a thousand people passed by this incredible musician as he played a series of classical masterpieces. According to Weingarten, a few people dropped money in his violin case, but most barely noticed the beautiful gift he was sharing with them. What is so interesting about this story is that it was only the children who truly paid any attention to the magic of his music, even though thousands of adults had paid $100 per ticket to listen to him play just one night prior to his musical experiment!

We all know the old saying “Stop and smell the roses.” Maybe it’s time for another “Stop and truly hear the music.” or even “Stop and see the beauty of the person that’s right there in front of you.” It really illustrates a core issue in our society. If something has a perceived value or perceived beauty, we will not only pay attention, we will pay money to be a part of it. But when the same level of beauty, the same musical gift is coming to us from a perceived unknown person, many of us don’t see the beauty….we aren’t willing to pay to be a part of it and in fact, we may pay it no attention at all….which is our loss…

The Bottom line: stop and smell the roses and remember that beauty is in the eyes (or ears) of the beholder. Stop and feel the beauty…you are the beholder….beauty is within you and all around you!

PS: I shared this picture for two reasons…

1) I like it.

2) Because people often say to me “You look good for a woman who has 6 kids!” Once again, beauty is in the eye of the beholder…in this statement, there is the slight implication that I am possibly challenged in the beauty department because I have children….hmph! Mothers make the world go round! What could be more beautiful than that?

Joy Nelson: Contemplation

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Anne-Marie says:

    Dearest Joy,
    Thankyou do much for sharing this incredibly insightful piece of writing.
    Jonti and I were discussing exactly this concept the other day.
    What causes people to place value or attention? And is it actually to do with value or perceived value?
    This piece brings up many things for us to look at as a society.

    1. Tantrachick says:

      You’re welcome lovely lady! Thank you for your warm ad supportive comments.
      Yes, it seems to be a topic of discussion in many circles at the moment.
      Everything is perception, I suppose. It definitely brings up so many things for our society…
      From my heart to yours wit gratitude for your positive contributions to this blog and society, Joy

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