Jer Monson

Follow me on Instagram @ MONSOJ01

I’m an early riser – a self-described morning person.

Actually, I sometimes drive my wife nuts because I fly out of bed ready to philosophize, scrub the kitchen floor, or arm wrestle…

Rachelle and I joke about this because she has a 35 minute wake-up process that doesn’t include moving until stage 4, or talking until stage 5! She’s a night person, so we’ve had to make some accommodations!

I’m awake, but morning breaks without me there.

I generally get to the office well before sunrise, but many times I get so caught up in my work that I don’t even realize morning has arrived. I pause to take a break, turn from my computer, and realize that it’s already daytime! Unfortunately, this means I almost always miss great sunrises over the city, as well.

The sight is breathtaking. So, why do I forgo dramatic beauty time and again?

All I have to do is pause momentarily to appreciate it, but I miss it because I’m so focused on my priorities. I forget to be intentional about prioritizing mindfulness. Thus, I don’t stop and smell the roses – or watch the sunrises – even though I easily could.

Of course, this begs another question…

Here’s an incredible little story some of you may have heard, or even witnessed! It demonstrates the importance of being more intentional about being mindful of the beauty around us every day.

One cold January morning, a man stood at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin. He played six complex classical pieces for about 45 minutes. Since it was rush hour, about 1,100 people went through the station during that time, most of them on their way to work.

After several minutes, a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing, slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds, and then hurried to stay on schedule. Shortly thereafter, the violinist received his first dollar tip from a woman who tossed him the money without stopping. A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen briefly before looking at his watch and walking off again. The person who was most captivated was a young boy. But when he stopped to watch, his mother hurried him along.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only seven people stopped to listen. About 20 others gave him money, but continued to walk at their normal pace. He collected $32 in total. When he finished playing, no one noticed or applauded.

And only one person recognized him.

The violinist was Avery Fisher Prize-winner Joshua Bell, one of the most talented musicians in the world. He had just played several of the most intricate pieces ever written on a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Three days before this stint in the subway, Bell sold out Boston’s Symphony Hall where decent seats averaged $100 each.

This is a true story. In fact, in case you missed it the first time, you can watch it unfold for yourself:


Bell’s incognito subway concert was organized by The Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste, and priorities. The experiment was essentially designed to determine whether people perceive beauty in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour.

The results are remarkable and sobering.

Would you and I have stopped to listen?

Maybe… Though statistically speaking, probably not!

More significantly, however, if most of us wouldn’t take a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing some of the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

We’ve all heard it said that the best things in life are free. Let’s remind ourselves not to overlook them while we’re doing what’s necessary to pay for everything else!

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