Monday, August 3, 2009

Passing these along

This morning's email brought a couple of things worth passing along. One was an update from a woman whose son, Miles, died almost two years ago from a very complex cancer. Miles was one of those extraordinary young people who transcended age and circumstance with his maturity, insight and compassion. There are dozens of articles about Miles Levine. His blog on CarePages, originally written for friends and family, was eventually being read around the world, touching thousands with his words that were infused with his spirit. Yes, it's tragically sad. But the thing about Miles that I hold on to most was...he was hilariously funny along with being way too wise for his slippers.

His mother Nancy, a talented writer herself (genes fit!), posted an update on CarePages yesterday that let Miles once again speak. It was an essay he wrote in 9th grade about clothing. It is completely Miles and so good, I wanted to pass it along. If a few of these lines don't make you laugh, something is seriously wrong in your approach to articles sartorial.

As we approach the second anniversary of Miles' death, I was thinking how much I'd enjoy reading a new entry by Miles. My wish came true: I discovered amidst his papers an essay he wrote in 9th grade, when he was 15 years old. The essay made me chuckle as it was "so Miles."

The topic was CLOTHING, and written as part of a HOW TO WRITE AN ESSAY, utilizing footnotes, an outline etc.

Here goes:

People have been wearing clothes for the millenium. For 30,000 years, people have been taking the skin off their food and fastening it to themselves. Never before has there been a true example of thinking out-side-the-box. This beautifully weird idea of wearing a dead animal's body is what is so great. But then something strange happened. Something abstract. The ability to grasp abstract concepts is half the significance of the invention of clothing. Clothing is the most important invention of our history as demonstrated by its unlimited uses, from weather protection, to decoration, to battle armour. It is proved by our use of the wide array of materials from the least expected materials of plants, plastic, and hair. Finally, theories put forth on why we first began to wear clothing shows its significance through the momentous step in our creative thinking. The combination of our mental evolution and this new technology, which would radically change our future beyond comprehension, fused together to create what is the most significant innovation of all our history, clothing.

And then there was this post, which I snoped and yes, it's true.

.something to think about...

Washington DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approx 2 thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After 3 minutes a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.

4 minutes later:

the violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the till and, without stopping, continued to walk.

6 minutes:

A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

10 minutes:

A3 year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly, as the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. Every parent, without exception, forced them to move on.

45 minutes:

musician played. Only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace.
He collected $32.

1 hour:

He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell 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:

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...

How many other things are we missing?

So, pilgrims, when you don your clothing today and head to where ever it is you need so desperately to be, ponder, just for a moment or two, what you might be missing along the way - about yourself and the world around you. Life is precious, easily worth a few moments to give to joy and laughter and egads, contemplation. We don't have time to miss it...Really.

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