Pearls before Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

1.5 years ago I came across an article in the Washington Post describing, in great detail, a musical experiment. The article is called Pearls Before Breakfast, the experiment was to see if one of the greatest musician’s could distract people from their rush to work in a D.C. Metro station.

The musician behind the experiment was Joshua Bell, an utterly amazing violinist. I read the article (it’s long) in amazement. I wondered what I would have done in the same situation: you’re in a hurry to get to work and hear some amazing music. Do you stop and listen or plow on?

I’ve often wondered “what would I do?” or “what would I have done?”, not only with simple things like this, but with bigger things. What would I have done during the American Revolution? What would I have done if I’d lived in Jerusalem 2000 years ago? What would I have done if I had been the one to discover how to make donuts?

Girl playing violin in the subway

I took this photo on Nov. 1st, underground in the New York City subway. It was late Saturday night, I wasn’t in a hurry, and it wasn’t very crowded. Still, I almost walked right on past. I caught myself and thought about the Washington Post experiment. I stopped and listened for a few minutes. She was good—not as good as Joshua Bell, but good. I’m glad I stopped to listen.

I had a lot of opportunities to stop and listen in New York. Sometimes I stopped, sometimes not. When I didn’t I was either in a hurry or the musician wasn’t that great. I wanted to stop whenever the musician was good, and tried to listen as long as possible even if I didn’t feel like I could stop.

While questions like “what would I have done?” are important, they’re much less important than the here and now. I believe that one of the most important questions we can ask ourselves is “what will I do?” I’ll never know how I would have acted had I been in that D.C. Metro station that day, but I can decide what to do in similar situations. The key is remembering what we’ve decided when the moment arrives.

Music, Decision Making, New York, Choice, Subway


  1. Beth That is good advice!
  2. mom Very profound, son.