Slow down and smell your wife (the world can spin without you for an hour or two)
Ever feel like your life in 2021 operates in only 3 modes:
Well, as Ferris Bueller once said: "Life goes by pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."
Today I wanna ask each of our readers-- especially those in a committed relationship-- to hit pause. To take a breath. To slow down, and look beyond our daily routine.
To make sure we don’t take for granted something special that we experience so often that we may neglect to give it our undivided attention and unqualified appreciation.
I wanna ask you to stop and look around with full attention (which in today’s crazy, keyed-up, hectic and busy world full of routine, obligations, distractions and needs...is the only sure way I know of to appreciate what’s right in front of us).
A quick and admittedly somewhat ‘weird’ story might help put things into perspective? (at least I hope)Over 1,1100 transit passengers passed through the Washington D.C. subway station that morning (most of them no doubt on their way to work or other mundane activities).
Yet it was a full 3 minutes before the camera hidden by The Washington Post newspaper captured anyone showing any sign that there was live music.
This middle-aged man slowed down a bit, even stopped for a few seconds before hurrying off back on time for whatever errand took him out of the house.
Then 60 seconds later, a woman threw a dollar at the violin player’s feet and walked away.
Some minutes later, a third person paused briefly and leaned on the wall to listen...but the man looked harriedly at his watch before leaving in a hurry. Maybe this gent was late for work? It’s hard to say...but whatever light tugging he felt from the music wasn’t enough to interrupt the routine he felt he must get on with immediately.
During the 45 minute concert the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed to listen to the golden notes that rose from his multi-million-dollar instrument.
Another 20 or so folks can be seen on the hidden video camera documenting the social experiment tossing money to the musician, and indeed we know from subsequent interviews that the man collected $32 USD and change-- including $20 of that from one woman who recognized the musician and stopped to say hello-- but none of the other dollar-tossers and penny pitchers stopped or stayed.
Each continued walking on at his or her regular pace, as the sounds of what some classical music fans have called melodic perfection drifted into unhearing ears.
It was during a January morning during AM rush hour when a strange man in a ball cap and a t-shirt stood near a public bench and started playing the violin at a Washington D.C. subway station.
He didn’t ask for money.
He wasn’t selling anything.
Indeed, it’s said he didn’t really even make eye contact with the hundreds of passersby.
He just played for about 45 minutes-- and if you were there, you’d have heard the haunting melodies, majestic musical transitions and simply sublime sound of six different classical pieces coming out of that violin.
Or would you have heard Bach’s music being played?
You might not have even heard the music.
Caught up in doing something on auto-pilot, those who were “there” at the time...simply weren’t present in the moment.Whether they were classical music fans or not...over a thousand people didn’t really hear that free concert from a world-class violinist playing a 300-year-old violin for which he paid $4,000,000.
Why this story today?
I’m afraid I’m guilty of something that you might be, too?
Work --> Eat --> Rest --> Screen Time --> Repeat
Sometimes our daily routine makes it so that we might not actually hear our significant other when he or she is talking.
And when was the last time you made a point to stop and smell the scent that filled your nostrils on the day you fell in love with her for the first time?
If it’s been awhile, that’s a shame.
And we think it’s-- mostly-- avoidable.
And we want to encourage you…
Take ten minutes today to remind yourself to SLOW DOWN.
To be present.
It’s telling that the observer who paid the most attention to the world-class musician playing a free concert in the subway station was a little boy, aged three, who stopped to look and listen to the violinist playing even though his mother tried to hurry him along. And even when she physically pushed him to get him walking again-- the little boy’s head remained turned backwards towards the music coming from that station bench.
Yet years later, tens of millions of people have watched some of the same performance that those 1000+ harried, hurried, rushing-to-work, gotta-get-the-errands-done passersby completely ignored (on videos like this 2-minute summary piece on Youtube).
Did the little boy know something about music?
Did he know the violinist was a Grammy award-winner with 40 albums, or had played the score for Oscar-winning Hollywood soundtracks?
Did he have any information about the situation that all of the hundreds of adults rushing to-and-fro did not?
That little boy didn’t have any different or extra information or knowledge about the situation, about music, or about the violinist than the over 1000 people who passed by something extraordinary while simply going on about their ordinary day.
And so when the violinist finished playing and silence took over as he packed up his instrument, no one noticed it.
Those walking by and hurrying on their way didn’t know that the violinist was acknowledged as one of the most talented musicians on the planet.
They didn’t know he was in the city playing a concert at the Library of Congress.
They didn’t know he regularly played over 100 shows to sold-out crowds each year.
They didn’t know that just 2 days before his impromptu and unannounced free “street musician” concert in the subway, this actually famous violinist had sold out $100-per-seat tickets at a Boston theater packed with passionate fans.
His name was Joshua Bell and at the request of The Washington Post newspaper, he agreed to participate in a simple social and musical experiment:
- Would you notice and appreciate what’s in front of you if you didn’t pay for it?
- Would someone change a personal but boring priority he or she had already decided to do to instead take time for what could be something special?
For almost 45 minutes, Joshua Bell had just played some of the most intricate classical music compositions pieces ever written-- on a violin worth millions of dollars no less.
Yet when he finished the show…
No one applauded, no one cared.
There was zero recognition.
And when I heard the story and watched the video…
I’ll be honest.
I thought about how underappreciated the people in my life can be sometimes.
My wife in particular.
Look, I get it.
Even if you told every passerby on his or her way to work the truth-- that the violinist was world famous, regularly sells out $100-per-seat concerts, and would be playing a multi-million-dollar, 300-year-old instrument that is itself a work of art-- the majority of people still wouldn’t stop:
- Some only like one kind of music.
- Some think classical music is elitist, no fun, or boring.
- Some couldn’t discern between a decent violinist and the best in the world
Yet even the vast majority of those who might consider stopping to listen would continue walking because being late to work might jeopardize their job security.
None of that is relevant to me.
What I took away from the story had nothing to do with whether someone likes or doesn’t like classical music.
My take is this: If we don’t have a moment to stop and listen to one of the acknowledged best musicians in the world in an out-of-the-ordinary moment, how many ordinary, everyday things that we nonetheless consider “special” are we missing? I
I’m ashamed to say that watching that video of the whole performance made me feel like less of a husband-- for all the times when I’m focused on my own work or hobbies, yet neglecting to give any attention and affection to my wife (often in the same house).
But I’m going to do better!
Maybe this story will inspire someone else to do the same.
No, the classical music part isn't the important theme.
To me, what’s striking about the story is how we as human beings prioritize what and whom we pay attention to as we go about our day.
As humans, we seem to be ADDICTED to STRESS.
We fill our lives with so much movement, constant chaos and noise.
Many of us have such a never-ending flow of to-dos and distractions that it’s almost like you can feel guilty if you don’t have something to do-- something on the to-do list for this week, this day, this hour, this minute.
And even in those rare moments where there isn't a must-do priority like getting to work, our brains seem to manufacture stress by recycling old painful memories or worrying about all the things happening in the future we cannot control.
I don’t know about you, dear reader, but I feel like when we are not working or worrying, too often we find ourselves constantly glued to a screen seeking something...scrolling social media for glimpses into other people’s lives, like driving down the neighborhood street peeping in through the blinds...thinking that maybe his or her life is more interesting than my own.
When so often living in fast-forward with your mind on the work-rest-repeat routine...worrying about the future...feeling regret or pain about the past...results in our medicating any of the above with a binge of screen time...can you honestly say you’ve been present as often as you like to live in the moment with your significant other and/or your family?
I know I haven’t.
That video...the experiment...seeing over a thousand people pass by something extraordinary to continue with something probably ordinary from an everyday routine...well, it makes me want to let go of past mistakes, stop stressing over daily deadlines and forget some of my fears about the future.
It makes me want to give more attention to my wife and kids and be a better husband and father too. They are frankly the most frequent extraordinary in my ordinary day
It’s like...we can look at life either as a series of hours in which to check items off a to-do list-- or as a series of moments and experiences to be noticed, lived, and appreciated.
It’s like...we can stop filling our calendar with ceaseless to-do's... and start giving ourselves more time with the people we love.
It’s like...we can choose if we want to turn down the volume on the noisy racket that is our daily grind and cultivate the habit of enjoying life's simpler gifts.
We can stop worrying about the past.
We can stop worrying about the future.
We can stop getting caught up in the other people’s drama...and start focusing on filling our own life with as much MAGIC as we can find, attract or create-- together with the people we care about most.
I think you may find what I did.
You may find that you don’t have to be wrapped in the feeling of NOT HAVING ENOUGH.
You may find the awful feelings that there's never enough money, never enough time, or never enough love to feel content right now...will simply disappear.
I know this is getting long and in-depth for an ecommerce jewelry business’s blog...but, well, I can’t help it.
It’s like I feel like I discovered something.
A way to weaken the stress, frustration, and discontent that seems the everyday flavor of this modern life we’ve cooked for ourselves.
What's the antidote to all this STRESS?
BE PRESENT IN THE MOMENT.
That's it. Learning how to be more present.
Right here, right now.
You may find that the world doesn't spin quite as fast as it used to spin.
And that your partner is right there next to you-- happy to receive more of your affection from the new time and attention you found when you decided the world could spin without you for an hour or two here and there.
Some may also find that an old flame isn’t burning quite as low as he or she thought it was-- what with all the extra oxygen of more time and attention we can give to fanning the flames of affection for that extraordinary person right in front of us.
Mr. Cubic Zirconia
Source: Weingarten, Gene. “Pearls Before Breakfast.” The Washington Post. 8 April 2007 (p. W10).
Source: Weingarten, Gene. “Fiddling Around with History.” The Washington Post. 29 June 2008.
- Master Account