Stop and Smell the Roses
In my local café waiting for my takeaway coffee, I overheard a woman in her 40s speaking with a couple of friends about a classical concert she went to with her parents over the weekend: “There was a choir and a large orchestra. In the first half they played three 10-15 minute pieces and then there was a break, and can you guess how long the next piece was? Just one piece in the second half… Just ONE piece…” she waited, looking at their bemused faces. When they couldn’t guess she said with a gasp of horror “45 MINUTES – ONE PIECE! YES, JUST ONE PIECE! 45 MINUTES!”
I had to smile at this remark but what really caught my attention was her next statement: “I just couldn’t concentrate for that long. Mum could see I was getting fidgety and nodding off at times.” This was concerning for me, not because she obviously wasn’t into the piece she was listening to or the fact she was judging all of classical music based on this one experience. I was mostly concerned about what this says about people today and something I’ve observed in our younger generations.
When did 45 minutes become a long time to concentrate on anything, whether we like it or not? Looking around today we expect everything to be immediate and the answer to be quick and attainable. We no longer stop to think, be still and ponder. Pop music has a simple riff, tune and message, lasts for two minutes and then we are on to the next idea; fashion lasts a season, or two if you’re lucky; trends come and go in the blink of an eye; information needs to be instant and snappy. Do we ever stop to look at the hamster wheel we are on and ask ourselves if we want to be on that hamster wheel or to stop, take time and really think about anything of importance? Are we too impatient to stop, listen and concentrate on something for 45 minutes in our life?
I’m not yet convinced that her disposition is the majority but if you do stop and look at the hamster wheel western society at large is on, you have to wonder if we are losing the ability to concentrate, focus and be patient. Is our way of life leading us to be less connected and thoughtful? Perhaps more classical music in school education is one way we can help to create a more throughful, mindful society full of thinking, active brains!
Is there anyone left who will stop and smell the roses?