Stand and Stare

“What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare” ~W.H. Davies


This is a photo of 650 kids at Valley Junior High, pausing to breathe, move, and be mindful at the beginning of an ordinary school day. It’s one of the coolest things I have been able to be involved with, and I think I missed it. I was there, with a microphone in my hand, leading some stuff. But in hindsight, I wish I had paused a moment longer. I wish I had seen their faces more clearly, and soaked in the beauty of the moment. It really was a moment to remember.

I have been consumed this week with a complaint. I have been stewing over the comments of one dissatisfied (and most likely unhappy) person, and as a result, I have been missing life. I have missed a beautiful week, with temps in the 80s, with friends and family nearby, and with Yoga Journal in town to highlight the work we are doing through Yoga Forward. And the truly unfortunate thing is, if I’m being really honest, I’ll admit that I have missed many of the moments of my own life, because I have spent so much time ruminating over pleasing others. If I’m not stuck in my head, I am busying myself, trying to get it all done. Can you relate?

I heard a powerful story that illustrates how much we miss, in our doing the day-to-day, and I’d like to share it with you. It’s called “The Man in the Metro”

It was all videotaped by hidden camera. A young white man in jeans, a t-shirt and a Washington Nationals cap positioned himself by a trash can in a metro station in Washington DC.  He started to play the violin. He played six Bach pieces during rush hour, as thousands of people passed by. The camera observed one man who stopped briefly, and then went on his way. He received one dollar bill and some change. 

The ones who paid the most attention were the children, who were whisked away by their hurried parents. In the 45 minutes he played, only six people stopped and watched. The rest hurried by on their cell phones. When he finished, no one applauded. 

No one knew the musician 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 has sold out a theater in Boston where the tickets averaged $100. 

Life’s music is everywhere and all around us. If we don’t have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world play some of the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

I teach yoga and meditation for a living, and it’s still hard for me. One of the quotes that always brings me back is this:

“If you are not present to this moment, you have abandoned your own life” ~John Kabat-Zinn

As Summer comes to a close and we step into a new season, will you slow down with me and listen to life’s music? Will you find a way to help ONE kid (or maybe hundreds) take a deep breath and find a moment of calm? And while you’re there, stand and stare.

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    About Denise Druce

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