Stop and Enjoy the Music

Which of us possesses the wonder of a child — ears that perk up at the sound of good music, eyes that notice beauty around us,  a sense of the importance of slowing down to appreciate the blessings we’ve been given?

Today, my friend Laurie posted a video of a man playing the violin in a DC Metro station as crowds and crowds of people hurried by and almost no one stopped to listen. Famed violinist, Joshua Bell, was participating in an experiment for a Washington Post article by Gene Weingarten.  ( I won’t go into all the details here, but what struck me was that the people who seemed most interested in stopping to take in the moment were children, and these children were rushed along by their parents, not allowed the time to take it in. I’m certain a sense of responsibility, a desire to be at work on time, and a drive to be productive, are essential to successful adult life, but I wonder if we always do this to our children. Do we take away their joy by pushing them at an ever-increasing pace toward the busy and even the mundane? Am I guilty? I like to think that, had I been in that station at that moment, I would have slowed down, I would have paid attention, and I would have encouraged my child to appreciate and enjoy. I am a busy person, but that was Joshua Bell!

The proof I offer myself that I would not have been among those who hurried by without a second look or listen, is my response to an event I was forced to attend last Sunday afternoon. My daughter said I kind of “freaked out a little,” and she may be correct. I likened myself to a kid in a candy store. I was downright giddy at what I saw and heard and downright saddened that many others did not seem to share my enthusiasm.

The Kaleidoscope Purple Heart Charity Event took place at the Kaleidoscope Mall in Mission Viejo, CA. It was a benefit for American soldiers. My daughter’s ice skating team did their utmost to be entertaining and patriotic even though “skating” on a plastic surface is not what they are used to. Judging by the kind comments they received, I think they succeeded. In addition to the ICE’Kateer’s exhibition, a dance troop dressed in red, white, and blue and twirling ribbons of the same, gave a wonderfully patriotic performance on the walkway in front of the mall’s businesses.

During the program, the mayor spoke, as did Jay Kopelman, a former marine and author of From Baghdad With Love. I was able to meet him, shake his hand, and purchase a signed copy of his book. Yes, that excited me a little, okay maybe a lot. The book, by the way, is fabulous so far. Being an old-school English major, I am often extremely critical of grammar and writing styles, as anyone close to me can attest. Normally, constant changes in verb tense would drive me crazy. Not so with this book. The writing is raw and tough and perfect for the kind of story being told. I fell in love with the marines as much as I did with the dog.

So, these were all terrific parts of this Sunday afternoon event, but what made my daughter comment that I “freaked out” was a performance by The Marine Corps Band. I was awed by their talent, I was overjoyed at the privilege of hearing them play (for free), and I was sorely disappointed that people could actually walk by without stopping, that there weren’t hundreds of people pushing their way into that place to hear that music. Perhaps it is because I used to play the piccolo, or that I happen to consider The Stars and Stripes Forever the best piece of music ever written, that I was so impressed with the piccolo solo and the man whose fingers moved adeptly over the tiny keys. The song brought tears to my eyes and respect to my soul, and I thanked God for the marines and for music and for my daughter’s love of her sport which brought me to that place at that time.

I am busy, but sometimes I do still possess the wonder of a child, with ears that yearn to hear and eyes that yearn to see and a mind that is grateful for freedom and soldiers and dogs.

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