In 1992, Eric Clapton played a segment of MTV’s Unplugged. The album became one of his most popular. The concert included many of his classic hits, but also became a model for a style of music that was stripped down from a preponderance of technology, and delighted in the simplicity of musicians sitting around and just playing. The model was so popular, that Clapton began to include an unplugged segment in most of his concerts after that. Although not exactly true; the “accoustic” instruments were still electricly amplified; the unplugged model points back to an earlier day when musicians would play music with no help from electric amps and speakers. People listening to these relaxed concerts had to develop keen listening skills, and maintain a perticular concentration to the music’s subtleties. The audience had to stay fully involved in the moment, and that meant the performance was a collaborative effort: the performer not only giving to those hearing his/her music, but also receiving feedback from the others in the room. Kind of like street musicians, who ply their wares and watch for passers-by to stop and turn their attention to the music being played, and away from the distractions of the surrounding noise.
As the above link shows, not many people are willing or maybe even able, to set aside the distractions of their immediate life to recognise and listen to beauty when it enters their world. It is so much easier to be entranced by our press forward into the urgency we perceive to be necessary. Sometimes, our distractions are less important than necessary tasks we need to complete. Sometimes, the distractions are a tad more frivolous…. like Facebook.
The other day at work, I went outside to take a 15-minute break. It was hot, but the wind was blowing and I really like getting out of the store into the natural (or as natural as JoCo suburbia retail is) world for a little while. I took my phone out in order to check Facebook… also a habit. As I pressed the button for it to load, a question suddenly occurred to me:
“How many more posts about people adding 83 new friends, or telling about their new blog do you need to see? The wind is nice, why not sit down and enjoy it?”
Now I really don’t have a problem with friends adding friends, or marketting their new blog posts… this post will run across your screen if you are one of my Facebook friends… but really… do I HAVE to know that information every free minute of the day? When does habit run into addiction? So I determined to unplug, at least for that 15 minutes. That 15 minutes was like pushing in the clutch on a manual transmission vehicle. It allowed the engine of my mind to disengage with a busy world, and enter a more tranquil one where the wind blew and cooled my body. I could hear the high school marching band practicing nearby. By so doing, I continue the practice of allowing myself to see, hear, and feel the beauty around me.
In the link about Joshua Bell’s Washington, D.C. subway concert, there is one woman near the end of the clip who stands in the middle of the entryway, transfixed by the beauty of the music played by a modern-day master. She knows who the “street” musician is, and stops her mad rush through the world in order to receive the beauty of the Master.
What a great idea… 15 minutes at a time…