June 3,  2014

Memories Bring Context




The song "Classical Gas" by Mason Williams always reminds me to think of events in a different context.


It was December 31, 1969. The evening news on Channel 11 in Houston, TX, back when three channels was all you needed, or wanted. It was the end of an eventful, history-making decade. Even then, I loved the use of still photographs and that night my love of images flowed together with the chords of Williams' song to bring a decade together. Considering the fact that I was only four when the decade of the '60s started, many of the images sparked no memories. But I remember the reel of images nonetheless.


The station was paying tribute to a decade through a rapid-sequence showing of images presented to "Classical Gas." I watched intently at the scores of images zipping by, some of which were already familiar to me-I knew not the meaning of an "iconic image" though many of them were-but most were not. Regardless, the stream of images gave me a context of history that carried with me from then on. Even today, when I hear the song, I think of how quickly one can see a decade flash by in images that provide context. Context is important.


Decades later, a history professor stood at my office door at Sam Houston State University, smiling as I expressed my concern over some world news. He shared that historians have a different perspective and context on news and events.


We should always consider the moment in the context of a grander time frame or frame of reference so as to not let problems seems too large nor successes too world changing. Pause, consider a stream of memories, images or messages to understand better the moment that you are in.






The Listen to Life newsletter features the writings of Dion McInnis.  Copyright Dion McInnis.  All rights reserved. 





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