In a common place environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty

If you read either of the feeds I have up (Fat Chat or Fat-o-sphere) then you’ve already read plenty about privilege, douchebags and who has the right to speak (and how) ABOUT that privilege or possible douchebagginess for the past few days. If you’re anything like me then you’re really ready for something, anything, other than more re-hash of what (to me at least) seemed to be an exploded result of a Fat Sphere “Slow News Day” knee-jerk reaction-fest.*

So to discuss other things I wanted to direct your attention to a beautiful (and a bit sad) social experiment that A Day in the (Fat) Life pointed out.

Joshua Bell, one of the greatest violin musicians in the world, played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars [in a metro station]. Two days before Joshua Bell sold out a theater in  Boston where the seats averaged $100.

[His] playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities. The questions raised: in a common place environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

One possible conclusion reached from this experiment could be this:  If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world, playing some of the finest music ever written, with one of the most beautiful instruments ever made … How many other things are we missing?

What else ARE we (I?) missing out on because of a funnel-vision-esque focus on tiny aspects of our own lives?

While beauty (even of particular types of music) is in the eye (or ear!) of the beholder and thus some people may not have honestly found Joshua’s music of interest; I do not doubt that there are people who may have stayed to watch this musician in the metro if they hadn’t spent a lifetime being told not to waste time, not to move on quickly, not to ignore the “extraneous” life fluff around them as they (we) bustle on to the next task, the next duty, the next bit of life.

Now I’ve been in the DC metro and, like the France metro and the NY metro and the Boston metro, they are generally not places I’ve ever felt an urge to linger for more than the few moments it takes to quickly check the “You are here” maps while trying to seem confident I know where I am so as not to be marked as some sort of  “easy target” for theft or who knows what else.  Not to mention that after certain hours that funky urine and desperation tinted odor of commuter travel does not make for a place one chooses to take up a patch of floor space in order to enjoy a bit of classical violin.  However, all of my own (perhaps social induced but personally believed and reacted to) metro-related convictions aside; I still find myself a bit melancholy at the potential implications of this tiny experiment.  Partly because of the note made of how many children TRIED to stop to listen yet were pulled away by busy adults (think of the children!!)  But also partly because I now wonder how often I’VE been guilty of moving through life just as quickly, disregarding what might be an amazing experience or beautiful moment in my rush to get to The Next Thing.

To bring it around to the self-acceptance travels I and others are on, I find myself really taking a moment to ask myself:  In my journey to “Find Self-Acceptance” how many truly beautiful moments have I let pass by because I was waiting for the true “zen” of full self-acceptance to come along? Similar to waiting to be the perfect size before attempting to do something I’ve convinced myself I could not POSSIBLY do at the Right Now Me-Size; have I been allowing amazing self-acceptance experiences because I don’t feel I’m self-accepting enough? That I’m not quite a Queen of Self-love and respect-to-all? Am I STILL trying to find ways to fit that same guilty dieter mentality into my life but now in the form of self-denial related to how far along I am in learning to love my body and respect the rights of others to the bodies they have??

So I’m taking that moment now to put on the brakes and look around my life and the paths that I’m on.  A lot of things are good in my life right now.  Some are not.  On my voyage to self-acceptance some days are good.  Some are really not.  Some days I feel like a true activist; ready to take on tough topics and tougher opinions.  Some weeks I just want to Ostrich through the politics and the ridicule and shame.

Today I’m ambivalent about my body.  In the spirit of Fat Talk Free week I will not shame that body but that little demon is there in the back of my mind.  Smaller in stature from over a year of deny it a right to force my actions; but it is still there waiting for those moments of mental insecurity to come forward again and remind me of the “possibilities” awaiting a smaller, less self-loving, more abjectly miserable April D.  But these days, like the wonderful days, I have found to be a part of the process.  I don’t think they ever go away entirely.

Perhaps one day there will be a generation of people who never ever HAVE that little mental demon; who are exposed to countless media images of diverse bodies in various equal roles and never can imagine hating themselves for the shape, size, color, or feelings they have. Who don’t have to spend a week away from any TV or news exposure in order to retain enough sanity to make it through the daily grind.  An ideal world?  Who knows.  Perhaps not.

One recent thing I AM very glad that I took the time to appreciate was meeting a classmate last night from an online class.  She took a step out of normal actions and wrote to ask if she could swing by the library where I act as a ninja reference librarian once a week. I took the hesitant (what if she doesn’t like me?  What if she’s some sort of crazy stalker?? What if she…makes fun of me??) but hopeful step to accept.

We met and were able to chat for a few moments last night.  And while it is certainly far too soon to tell how things will go in the future;  I know I have been able to connect with another human being in a simple but friendly way.  Both of us taking that little moment to do something unexpected that turned out to have a fun few chatty moments of interesting conversation (If you’re reading: Hi!!).

It is a moment I am glad I did not let pass by.  Not all moments will work out so well…and some are perhaps better left not experienced if they don’t fit within your comfort zone (or just beyond it). (What if it had been a guy?  Or someone asking to meet at my house? Or someone I just met on the metro??)

The point I’m taking away from last night and the reflections on the metro music experiment is that keeping my eyes open to such opportunities does not cost me anything.  There is no inappropriate hour to appreciate a good chat, or a moment of self-love.  I would do well to remember this in the future.

*Which did, nonetheless, bring up some interesting topics for future discussion: namely at what point does “discussing” privilege become “flaunting” it and when does it all of a sudden become okay to shun those honestly (or not?) asking for “help” in where to go “from here” once acknowledging said privileges just because their tone wasn’t quite humble enough?

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7 thoughts on “In a common place environment at an inappropriate hour, do we perceive beauty

  1. If you read either of the feeds I have up (Fat Chat or Fat-o-sphere) then you’ve already read plenty about privilege, douchebags and who has the right to speak (and how) ABOUT that privilege or possible douchebagginess for the past few days.

    For someone who doesn’t follow the feeds, what’s been going on?

  2. thanks for the reminder… there is so much good going on in my life since I started my journey of self acceptance, which accepting me as fat is central, and I am going to spend today celebrating the fact that I am good enough, I’m smart enough, and gosh darn, people like me!

  3. I saw that story a while back (or maybe heard it on NPR?) and it just made me sad…as much as I tell myself I’d be the ONE parent who defies the odds and lets my kid listen, I get caught up in the schedule so frequently. Since hearing the story, I’ve tried to give my son just that little bit more time to listen, to enjoy.

    Your little step, and mine, are so important. They’re definitely worth celebrating!

  4. April D.! I’m late to this party but wanted to post! It was great meeting you too last week and getting to chat, and, especially meeting someone interesting in my town-ish area. Also love the blog and moved it to the forefront of the “weeklies” (blogs I check at least weekly). You are one busy woman with buckets of enviable energy.

    I especially appreciate your honesty in your writing (but it’s interesting honesty!) and diverse topics. AND! Those crafty searching skills that are bringing to light some awesome blogs/websites/links.

    Yowsa to you.

    (Currently enjoying avoiding school work–but this is more important).

    Looking forward to more posts!

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