Being: Conscious, mortal existence; life.
Every month we welcome two families, two people, two voices to share their stories in whatever way they chose. We hope that you find joy in their daily lives, and their simple habit of just being.
A few years back, there was an article in The Washington Post about world famous violinist Joshua Bell playing a concert mostly unnoticed, and largely unheard, in a metro station in downtown Washington D.C. during a weekday morning commute. At the time, the article became an internet sensation, circulating rapidly and widely, and even today, it still enjoys decent traction on social networking sites and in email forwards. You are likely to get it sent to you in an email from your uncle or an old officemate any minute now.
There are a number of reasons why the article likely gained the attention that it did. The thought of one of the world’s most talented classical musicians anonymously hanging out in an urban metro station with a 3.5 million dollar violin in hand, for example. But beyond just the strangeness of the surprise involved in Bell’s choice of performance venue, the story circulated so widely and quickly because it said something salient about the culture and times in which we now live. The message in the story was clear: on the average Friday mornings of our lives, we are allowing beauty to be trumped by busy. Most of those people in the subway station, when presented with something extraordinary, didn’t recognize it because no one had told them that it was special and anyway, they had somewhere else they needed to be.
My own eight year old daughter is a budding violinist. She takes a weekly lesson and she plays in a local Suzuki group as well as with a local youth orchestra program. This past weekend was particularly busy in the violin department, and amidst rehearsals and concerts and stops by the house to quickly eat before heading out for more of the same, I found myself thinking about why, exactly, we are doing this music thing.
There are the obvious benefits that people often mention when we talk about my daughter’s musical education. Discipline, for example. Yes, I will happily agree that a certain amount of discipline and focus are required from both of us in order for her to be successful in learning this instrument that she has chosen. And discipline can be useful stuff. But it is about more than that, I think. So much more.
It is about the idea that with the right tools available, human beings can bring words, music and pictures to life in ways that are beyond our imagination. I don’t drive my daughter to violin lessons, insist that she practice each day or take her to orchestra concerts because I intend to “tiger mother” her into a career as a professional musician. I do it so that she might better understand how beauty is made, and why it matters. Do I want my daughter to grow up to be a scientist, or a doctor, or teacher? Sure. Those are all good things.
But what I really want, what I hope for when I think about the person that she will grow to become?
I want her to be the person who stops in the subway station… and listens.
This month we welcome Annie of the blog Bird and Little Bird . Annie is the mama of two young children, and along with her blog, she is also the creator of the incredibly popular Alphabet Glue e-magazine. We look forward to having Annie with us in the coming weeks, and we hope that you will join us here every Wednesday for Annie’s words, photographs and reflections.