Beauty Surrounds Us

Winter Garden
Winter Garden

A friend recently sent me a story about a world class violinist playing  one of the most intricate musical pieces on a rare instrument. He played incognito in a DC metro station for about 45 minutes during peak travel. It was a social experiment organized by the Washington Post about perception, taste, and priorities of people. In our everyday moments do we perceive beauty? do we stop to appreciate it? And do we recognise talent in an unexpected context? Only 6 people stopped and lingered for a while, 20 people gave him money but continued at their normal pace. The researchers concluded that the others missed the entire experience. They wondered if we don’t take the time to stop and listen to one of the best muscians  playing the most incredible music, what else are we missing?

The story resonated with me on a couple of levels. I could place myself in a crowded subway moving quickly determined to make the train. I can also remember musicians that I passed and heard, but didn’t linger. Some I might have placed a dollar in the case if I had time to fish it out of my purse. But I can remember several times (and note that I am not a frequent commuter) how I appreciated the notes echoing off the tiled walls until I walked out of their range. I can also remember savoring the music even though I could no longer hear it. There is no way the reporters could measure that response.

The story also resonates with my as a gardener and garden maker. A favorite quote by Rumi, “Beauty surrounds us, but we need to be walking in a garden to know it”, speaks to the universal perceptions the reporters were noting. Yet as a garden maker I hope that when one surrounds oneself with a beautiful garden that we learn to see beauty everywhere. Holding that belief is one of the reasons that street entry gardens are so important to communities. As well as civic plantings at traffic islands in the town and burb and parks in the city. I think that taking in beauty –stimulating our senses in its appreciation–wherever adds a special quality to our life.  Yet I also realize that you must hold that intent. The intent to let beauty in.  It is my sincere hope that beauty echoes within your everyday. That you can find beauty in in the most unexpected moments.

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