Pearls Before Breakfast

Pearls Before Breakfast is an article in the Washington Post on an experiment they ran. They talked Joshua Bell, one of the finest classical violinists in the world, to take a street musician gig, playing 6 classical pieces in a Washington DC subway station during the morning commute. The questions they asked themselves were:

Each passerby had a quick choice to make, one familiar to commuters in any urban area where the occasional street performer is part of the cityscape: Do you stop and listen? Do you hurry past with a blend of guilt and irritation, aware of your cupidity but annoyed by the unbidden demand on your time and your wallet? Do you throw in a buck, just to be polite? Does your decision change if he\’s really bad? What if he\’s really good? Do you have time for beauty? Shouldn\’t you? What\’s the moral mathematics of the moment?

Mindfulness, being fully in the present, is part of the equation. Also, how rigidly scheduled are our lives? Han Shan would have had the freedom to stop and listen. But low- to mid-level government bureaucrats generally don\’t have much flexibility in their weekday schedule. Do you thing the result would have been different on a weekend or holiday afternoon?

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