This story registers with me quite a bit. Click the link for the whole story (it’s short), and give it a read. That last line is particularly humbling for me, as I can picture myself with my nose in my iPhone instead of keeping my eyes and ears awake to what is actually happening around me.
In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.
No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.
Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100.
This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of an social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?
One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be: If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?
Here’s the video:
Oof. How many yoga classes have I been to without knowing I am in the presence of an amazing teacher because I’m so focused on what I’m doing/feeling/getting? How many times have I taught classes and failed to introduce myself, my teachers, and establish credibility?
I could take this as an easy opportunity to go into how people aren’t present, etc. But what I’m more interested in is you asking yourself, “Where am I playing the part of Joshua Bell in a subway station?” By that I mean, how do you share with people who you are and what you have to offer as a teacher and a person? Without any context provided, people are free to make up their own minds - which is fine, but often that leads to an easy distraction and/or LOL cat videos.
This was a stunt to see what people would do, but as a yoga teacher the price of humble anonymity is much higher. How are you sharing who you are? If you’re not sharing at all - no facebook page/website/linkedin/twitter/instagram/whatever - in a way people expect to find you, you are teaching yoga in a subway station.
And everyone misses out as a result.