The man in the metro: It was all videotaped by a hidden camera. He was a young white man injeans, T-shirt and a Washington nationals baseball cap. He positioned himself by a trash basket at a metro station in Washington D.C. and started to play the violin for passing pedestrians. He played six Bach pieces during the rush hour as thousands of people filed through the station, most of them on their way to work. After the first four minutes went by, a man briefly leaned against the wall to listen but then looked at his watch and started to walk again, clearly late for work. A little later the violinist received a dollar tip from a woman who tossed the money in his open violin case, but without stopping. Others flipped in quarters, nickels or pennies on the run. The ones who paid the most attention were the children. The Washington Post reported, “every single time a child walked past, he or she tried to stop and watch and every single time, a parent scooted the kid away.” In the 45 minutes the musician played, only six people stopped and stayed for a while. Others who were on their cell phones spoke louder as they passed the violinist, so their voices could be heard over the music. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed and no one applauded. No one knew that the violinist was actually Joshua Bell, the internationally acclaimed virtuoso. That day in the metro he played one of the greatest pieces of music ever written—Bach’s Partita No. 2–On a Stradivarius worth $3.5 million. Just two days before, he had sold out a theater in Boston where the tickets averaged $100 each. Life’s music is everywhere and all around us. If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing some of the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

What is this life, if full of care. We have no time to stand and stare. -W.H. Davies

 

What’s it like to be reborn

By Vickie Girard, Stage IV Cancer Survivor

We cancer patients receive a unique gift. Yes, we know what its like to come close to death, but we also know what it’s like to be reborn. I remember vividly the day I first stepped outside the hospital—released at last from weeks of undergoing a bone marrow transplant. Oh, if that wonderful rush of the senses could be bottles, it would be worth a thousand times its weight in gold.

It was a beautiful summer day, but beautiful is inadequate. The colors that day were turned up, as if I had been seeing with poor reception before. The scents in the air were almost overpowering. I could smell fresh cut grass, growing flowers, traffic, food—I could smell the time of day. Morning smells different than evening or midday.

The sounds rushed at me. Voices, no longer filtered or contained by hospital walls, had a different ring outside. I heard a dog bark, a horn honk, a child yell, shoes hitting pavement, and multiple conversations going on all around me. And the feeling—there was a slight breeze and I could feel my skin. It was almost as if the air itself had texture as it touched my face and arms. The sun, it warmed me from the outside in. Even walking felt different then it had in hospital corridors.

Had the world always been like this, this alive? I vowed to always look at life this way, to never forget this moment.

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