For Christmas last year, and before she left for Moldova, B gave me a book called 102 Free Things To Do: Inspiring Ideas for a Better Life. One of the suggestions is to keep a daily diary, where you only write one sentence to sum up the day. I thought this was a great idea, and began my one line diary at the start of this year.
Turns out B thought the same thing. She messaged me to tell me so, and said that her entry for the day she arrived in Moldova was ‘OH DEAR GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE?’
I responded that at least hers was vaguely dramatic.
Mine for the same day had been: ‘Filed my tax return.’
Are our lives really as dull as they sometimes feel? Perhaps we are walking past great beauty, people of renown, the beginnings of epic historical events all the time without even noticing?
Earlier this week I read a blogpost by Jay Wilson, who was at university at the same time as me, and is a passionate and talented musician. He linked through to a fascinating experiment conducted by the Washington Post. They invited one of the greatest musicians in the world, a violinist named Joshua Bell to busk in a busy Metro station. He played some of the finest and most complex pieces of music ever written on one of the rarest and most beautiful instruments ever crafted for almost an hour.
How many people recognised his craft or were arrested by the beauty of the moment?
1,097 people passed him.
27 people gave him money – a total of $32.17.
Hardly anyone stopped to listen.
But as the newspaper article notes: ‘There was no ethnic or demographic pattern to distinguish the people who stayed to watch Bell, or the ones who gave money, from that vast majority who hurried on past, unheeding. Whites, blacks and Asians, young and old, men and women, were represented in all three groups. But the behavior of one demographic remained absolutely consistent. 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.’
The article in full is fascinating and well worth the read.
And it made me think. For every child, every new day is a thing of wonder. There is so much to discover, to appreciate, to see, to hear, to smell, to touch. To adults this endless curiosity can be both delightful and infuriating. Somehow, as we grow older we begin to lose our sensitivity to the joy that life holds, to beauty and to art in our everyday lives.
Perhaps if I began to pay attention like a little child, I would have more to write on the dullest of dull days, than ‘Filed my tax return’.
And perhaps by paying attention to the beauty of the world, we would all have more inspiring and better lives.