Several years ago Joshua Bell, one of the most sought after violinists in the world, conducted a social experiment. Unannounced, he went to a metro station in Washington DC, took out his Stradivarius (worth over $4,000,000) and began playing. He spent hours performing some of the finest classical music of the last few centuries. Why? To see if anyone would notice.
Most people walked right past him as he was playing, completely unaware of what was going on (you can watch some of the footage here). A few children tugged on their parents coattails, asking them to stop for a minute so they could listen to the strange man playing the beautiful music, but most of their parents would not oblige them.
A few people paused during their morning routine in the metro that day to listen to Joshua. Even fewer realized who was playing before them and changed their plans to accommodate this special happenstance.
It’s easy to understand why so many missed what was happening. I don’t ride a metro often but from the few times I have I know it can be a busy place. Most of the people there are on their way to someplace else (usually work). They are in a hurry to get out of there because it is often dirty, crowded, and not always well-kept.
But sometimes, in the midst of the crowded moments of our lives, beautiful things are happening. We don’t always know when these moments will happen. Often times they come unannounced.
Hurrying can cost us some of the most beautiful moments of life.
Rushing from one thing to the next, seeing how much more we can cram in is doing something to the fabric of our lives. Moving at warp speed is warping our hearts and souls. Always pursuing more keeps us unfulfilled and always wanting more.
Owning too much can cause the same damage as doing too much.
The clutter in our homes eats away at our time, energy, space, and well-being. It cries out for us to do something with it. Many ignore it and continue to live with the clutter which, over time, erodes contentment and peace of mind. Others give in and spend hours upon hours organizing it and putting it away day after day, week after week.
But what if there was another way, a better way? I think there is.
Choosing to do less and own less allows us to enjoy life more. Slowing down allows us to appreciate the life that we already have, which is more amazing than we often realize.
And owning less allows us to have more freedom, space, and energy to pursue the things in our lives that bring us true meaning. Having less stuff offers us the opportunity to spend our time in pursuits more worthwhile than organizing, cleaning, and maintaining clutter.
Joshua Bell’s caper has become something of an urban legend today. You may have heard it, or some version of it before. It is a great reminder of what our hurried lifestyle is costing us and how we can benefit from slowing down and giving up the clutter that has accumulated in our lives.