OPINION: Like many of you readers will, I remember the collapse of the Soviet Union - the old USSR.
There is so much learning readily available in good books! Now, added to that, I have been copying/ cutting and filing for over three decades. Stories that have motivated and moved me, and quotes that I find poignant and powerful are tucked away in my files.
I even have a number of quotes on the importance of reading. Here’s just the one for an appetiser: “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” (Harry S Truman, 33rd US President)
For my column this month, here’s one of those stories. I choose it because the application is so pertinent in today’s world. This story could easily have happened in any city with a busy transit hub.
On a cold January morning, at a busy Metro station in Washington D.C., a young violinist was busking, as people rushed on by, chasing their day. After three minutes, a middle-aged man paused briefly, then hurried on. Thirty seconds later, a woman threw the first dollar into his case, as she hurried on past. Six minutes later a man leaned against a wall to listen for a few minutes, then looking at his watch he moved on. After ten minutes a little boy stopped, but his mum was having none of it, and hurried him along. Other children did the same, but every parent without exception kept their kiddies moving along.
Only seven people stopped long enough to actually listen for a bit, while just 20 of the folks threw some money in. He collected $50 for his efforts that morning. After about 45 minutes he stopped playing, packed up and moved on. Nobody seemed to notice and there was no applause as he left.
The young violinist? Joshua Bell, one of the world’s finest musicians! He had played some of the most detailed classical pieces ever written, on a violin reportedly worth more than NZ$5 million dollars. Two days before this, he had played to a sold-out theatre, where folks had paid $150 per ticket, just to hear him play.
How many times has being in a hurry got us into a pickle, simply because we didn’t push the pause button long enough to think it through? More times than we would like to admit is my guess.
How many great moments in life have we missed as we have barrelled right on by, ‘foot to the floor’? I doubt whether all the folks at the Metro that morning will ever get that opportunity again.
Added to these thoughts is the well-known fact that this high-speed living is simply not good for your health. It will definitely catch-up with you sooner or later.
“My goodness, it’s late February already!” someone gasped. For me, I notice when I slow down, strangely the clock seems to slow down too. And when I get wound too tight and crank up the tempo, strangely the clock seems to speed up as well!
So, slow down and get some balance into your schedule as soon as you can.
Don’t wait for ‘a rainy day’ to make some adjustments. You may find the ‘rain’ to be more of a storm that lasts a whole lot longer than you had imagined!
And yes, the spiritual side of life has helped me immensely with this; it’s helped me put the brakes on when I’ve needed to. It’s a non-negotiable part of my life.
Look after yourself and those closest to you.