Joshua Bell

What gems of your life are you missing out on? What beautiful moments are right under your nose?

I can’t help but read this WashPo article and think, “Nah, that would never happen to me: *I’d* totally know Josh Bell by sight.” (It helps that we were both at the same chocolate tasting a few months back. And that he’s a seriously brilliant Jewish cutie.)

The article sets up an experiment that's deeply rooted in ancient Greek mythology IMHO. Remember your Greek myths? I lived by Edith Hamilton’s tome when I was a child; stories of gods and demi-gods descending from Mount Olympus, disguised as bulls or goats or old witches or warty old men. The virtuous young Greek, who didn’t judge the old person but fed them and gave them safe harbor was thusly rewarded: the old witch was a god in disguise! Rewards showered from above; a lesson was learned.

By placing a classical music god disguised as a common street performer in a Metro station in DC during rush hour, the question became would anyone recognize great art taken out of its natural habitat? Or in more quantifiable terms, out of 1000 commuters, how many would stop to listen to the beauty playing a beauty [Joshua owns/plays a three million dollar Strad ]. The article, and very unscientific experiement, shows not many. Only one woman recognized Joshua Bell, performer. One man thought he was a great performer but didn't know him by name. And for the hour, he made $34 and change.

If I were rushing, or worse late for a very important date would I stop to listen to a street performer if he were playing my favorite Beethoven? Would I be so tuned out of my environment, so closed down to the possibilities, that I would miss what was literally right under my nose? Would you?

As an Allergic Girl, being attuned my environment, my meal, especially to what my body is telling me, is crucial. I’m genetically programmed, if you will, by my allergies to be hyper-aware to my surroundings because they can adversely effect me.

That hyper-awareness is a gift. And a burden. It’s both. It would be nice to go out one evening and be a little oblivious. By the same token, often I get to experience smaller moments that pass others by.

For you parents of allergic kids who’ve written me wondering how your children will navigate the world as an allergic adult, one distinct positive is being aware of the world around you, open to the possibilities of danger and doom as well as beauty and grace. We are the Greeks who come to the aid of the gods in disguise. We are the ones who don’t miss a trick.


Vivian Mahoney said…
This is unbelievable. I played the violin for years. Classical music simply draws me to tears at its sheer beauty. To have been able to hear Joshua Bell, that would be a true amazing experience...I hope I wouldn't have been one of those who just rushed by.

I agree, my little one is incredibly in tune to what goes around her. I often wish my older one had the same hyper-awareness, but she has her own gifts.

Thank you for sharing this post.
Allergic Girl® said…
i know! i have a sneaking suspicion if it were someone like lindsay lohan singing or paris hilton or dixie chicks or 50 cent more people would have stopped. but classical music is still perceived as inaccessible or unenjoyable i suppose. i don't really know b/c i, like you, am drawn to tears by some classical music. opera slays me; shubert is a killer. glad you enjoyed!
Hi Allergic Girl, thanks for sharing this! It's nice to stop and think about the world we live in...good music is such a personal thing, what resonates for one does not resonate for all. But I like to think anyone with any remote sense of beauty would have stopped, if even for a moment. (You didn't have to know anything about basketball to recognize that Michael Jordan was a star when you watched him play...same goes here.)

And for those of us allergic types who are hyper-sensitive to everything around us, we get to experience more than the average bear out there (for better or worse)...just because we can't take the little things for granted like everyone else does.

I think if we found a stunning, sun-warmed piece of perfectly ripened seasonal fruit that you, Glutenfree girl and I could actually all share, we would be moved to tears. :) (And everyone else would think we're looney!)
Allergic Girl® said…
FAQ, totally! sunripened fruit, or fresh summer corn in august, i do jump for joy about simple things. it baffles me that anyone would think enjoying something simple and yummy and allergen-free is "looney".
Unknown said…
I think if the experiment had been done in NYC people would have stopped.
My favorite subway musician, the 'Saw Lady' (have you seen her at Times Square?) commented on this story in her blog from her unique point of view as a busker.
Personally I think the whole article was a publicity stunt for Bell... it got everybody talking about him, even people who don't follow classical music!
Allergic Girl® said…
totally. a friend in dc said if they put if in Dupont circle, alot more people would have stopped. i dont think the PR machine came up with it though.

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