Someone recently drew my attention to a 2007 article in the Washington Post -- written by Gene Weingarten, it recounts what happened when world-famous violinist Joshua Bell busked for 43 minutes in DC's L'Enfant Metro station. I think I have some vague memory of this, but I clearly never read the whole thing 'til recently.
There are so, so many reasons why the article is worth your time; this small selection is just one of many nuggets from the article, about one of the few passerbys that stopped to listen:
When Picarello was growing up in New York, he studied violin seriously, intending to be a concert musician. But he gave it up at 18, when he decided he'd never be good enough to make it pay. Life does that to you sometimes. Sometimes, you have to do the prudent thing. So he went into another line of work. He's a supervisor at the U.S. Postal Service. Doesn't play the violin much, anymore.... Does he have regrets about how things worked out? The postal supervisor considers this.The article was incredibly popular, not to mention well-received -- it won the author a Pulitzer Prize.
"No. If you love something but choose not to do it professionally, it's not a waste. Because, you know, you still have it. You have it forever."
If you skim through the chat Weingarten hosted after the article came out (note: if you think the article is long, just wait 'til you read the chat), there are some negative comments, but I'm much more in the "criers" camp. I didn't actually cry, but the idea that beauty is all around us, every day, and it's hard for us to notice it sometimes struck home. ("A thing of beauty is a joy forever. My man John Keats said that!") As did the idea that performing music, at whatever skill level, is a lifelong gift. As did the idea that I've been through more than my fair share of Metro stops in my life. Oh, and I still play the violin (very rarely).
I'll stop babbling. Go read. If you'd rather watch video (cant' seem to get the Post's unedited clips to work), here's a small (edited) clip...