Saturday, January 10

Stop. Listen. Live.

A few days ago, LadyD brought up a story that I had read when it first came out, nearly two years ago. My favorite pizza delivery person, Uncle Crappy, later linked to the original Washington Post article. If you've never read the full story of when one of the world's greatest musicians, Joshua Bell, went incognito and played a $3.5 million violin during rush hour in the middle of a busy metro station, you should. It's an amazing story that will leave you thinking and make you ask yourself, "Would I have stopped to listen?"

I reread the whole thing, with the new perspective of a parent of a toddler, rather than the parent of a newborn, and was struck by a particular line:

"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."

I don't want to be that parent.

Sure, being a grown-up means having grown-up responsibilities. Being on time is important, and life is full of things that need to be done. Kids, on the other hand, are all about dawdling and are magical at finding ways of procrastinating on the way to anywhere. I mean, it can take Alexis twenty minutes just to walk down the stairs because she will stop to look in the mirror, check out all the photos, pick at a spot on the carpet, adjust her headband, try to reach the ceiling, call the dogs, and verify that she still has two feet at least 30 times. Mad Delay Skillz, she has them.

But stopping to listen to music? To catch a snowflake on her tongue? To watch the ducks eat? To smell the flowers? She does all that, too.

And she's right to do it.

I wanna be right.

Teach me, Alexis. I don't want to forget to stop and enjoy life right along with you.


  1. We do learn so much from our children, things we forgot along the way to growing up.

  2. I've been thinking about this lately myself. Not specifically about this story, but just in general. I have a hard time when I'm at home with Maggie not working, or thinking about working, and just PLAYING with her. I get bored and restless (because, let's face it, drawing 8,927 circles a day with crayon for your kid gets old after a while, no matter how much you love them!) I've been trying to just live in the moment like she does, and not worry about that email I need to get back to, that phone call I need to make, etc. They can wait until she's at daycare, or at least until Daddy's home that night.

  3. Great post! It doesn't surprise me at all that the children wanted to stop and listen. We can learn so much from children. I was just thinking about this yesterday, while standing in line at the grocery store. About 80 percent of the people in line were talking on cellphones. The woman behind me and I were having a conversation - one that I enjoyed and would have missed had I been multi tasking. We are becoming so disconnected in our society!

  4. Amen.

    thanks for the reminder. That is an amazing story and I would like to think that I would have stopped to listen, but that doesn't apply every day. :-(

  5. Well said!!

    This is actually one of my goals for this new year ... slow down and let life happen and enjoy the adventure that is before me instead of always working on the next deadline.

    Thank you for the reminder!

  6. Beautiful Sentiments. The world these days is in such a rush, everyone wants everything now. Seldom do a majority of the people take the time to notice the little things. Those little mementos that stay with you far longer than the bigger things we experience in life. There is a delicate spirit that underlines life and humanity, if we're fortunate we will get to feel that pulse a few times in our lives. Children should never outgrow the ability to feel it. (Hugs)Indigo

  7. Ahh, I can so relate. And I'm one who WOULD stop and listen as long as I could, before regrettably pulling away. (even if the kids wouldn't)

    How is it that our technologically advanced lives have only lessened our time to stop and savor?

  8. So true. This was a great post!

  9. Crista11:21 AM

    Just today I witnessed a similar situation. DH and I were at big, huge toy store and this group walked by, 3-4 adults and 2 children. One of the women starts shouting "Bryce, Bryce...where are you Bryce? Joe, where's Bryce?" "He's back there at that endcap looking at something." Mom (I assume): "BRYCE COME ON!!" So Bryce comes strolling along and Bryce turns out to be around 11 or 12. "STAY WITH US. YOU'RE GONNA GET LOST."
    Now I don't know that family or whatever story might be there, but that whole exchange struck me. How do you bring a kid to a toy store and not let him look around?!
    Thanks for letting me vent.
    Also, to your story. I hadn't read that before. I really enjoyed it and it prompted me to do a little research. The columnist who wrote it earned a Pulitzer Prize for the story. Well deserved. And now I'm off to smell some flowers :)

  10. What a great senitment!! I'd seen that article before. I agree whole heartedly with you!

  11. I would like to think that I would stop to listen with or without the kids. I agree with other commenters that we are losing so much as we progress with the technology.

  12. I really wish I'd paid more attention to what my kids tried to show me. It is never too late to start! Great post.

  13. My college roomate was like that. Always stopping to "smell the roses." Maybe that's why she graduated a semester after me? {I don't mean that in a bad way...}

    We could take a lesson or two from our toddlers (and college roomates!) ; )

  14. I remember that article, too. I think I read it three times trying to process it. "But surely these people had earphones and were listening to ipod stuff on the metro and couldn't hear him," I told myself.

    I do remember there was ONE guy who did stop to listen. But everybody else totally missed the point.

    I also remember that there was a student string quartet that would play chamber music at my subway stop sometimes in the evenings. And I'd ALWAYS stop to listen.

    And I wish the guy had been at MY subway stop.

  15. it's so easy to let things slip past.

    good for you for knowing.

  16. I agree. Although this sounds much like we're making a pact to be early everywhere we go just to have time to stop and listen to the music.

  17. I wrote about that back in April of that year. It really made an impact... silly as that might sound...

    Particularly because I had recently been engaged in an academic argument regarding value of art and how to quantify "good" or "bad..."

  18. That's the sort of thing that reminds me why I stop for Boog to look at the deer grazing in our neighborhood when we see them even if we're late. This morning we caught at least 12 grazing in the woods just off the side of the street.

    Granted there are times when I'm rushing him out the door and OMG why must you touch everything you walk by but still at least I'm making an effort somewhere.

  19. awesome story. Thanks for sharing it.

    We can sure learn a lot from those little people in our lives.