Joshua Bell, Desiderata and Detroit

Came across two beautiful pieces of writing and one intriguing blog post the last few days, and I thought I’d share them.

Joshua Bell

The intriguing blog post was from Tim’s Blog, about a stunt/experiment that violinist extraordinaire Joshua Bell took part in.  [See the Washington Post story here to get the background.  (Free registration may be required.)]  To paraphrase the Post, on this Friday morning, in the middle of the first rush hour of the day, at the arcade of a busy train station, one of the best violinists in the world played some of the most moving music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made, for 43 minutes.  Many walked past Joshua Bell without a second glance, even though he wasn’t being miserly with his talent – he played one of the most difficult pieces a violinist can play, in his energetic, all-motion style.  At the end, he earned just over 50USD, including a 20USD donation toward the end of the stunt/experiment from someone who recognised him.

This stunt/experiment asks several questions about beauty and its context, but I also like Tim’s question: “How many things are we missing?” If people can ignore Joshua Bell’s music, what else that is significant and beautiful and true might they be missing?

I think this context bit is worth thinking about a little more, too.  Say you saw this athletic floppy-haired chap with a liquid backhand playing tennis with a powerful muscular left-hander who hits his forehands with a vicious topspin, would you know who they were if you hadn’t seen them on TV before?  And would it make a difference, to whether you watch them play or not?  Should it?  That says something about the power of globalisation and media and technology.


I came across Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata via the Personal MBA blog and absolutely loved it.  I think you will too.

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexatious to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love,
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.


(Not sure why, but I usually misspell “Detroit”.)  I really enjoyed this article about Detroit’s resilience as its famed automobile industry collapses.  The article is written by Mitch Albom – author of “Tuesdays with Morrie” – and a stirring piece, even from this far away.

Author: lichone

Ethics by Enid Blyton; physique by deep-fried things. I think we all have an instinct to tell stories and to build things and relationships,

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