Dr. Jennifer W. Shewmaker

Parent, Teacher, Author

One Moment in Time: Reflections on Whitney Houston and the power of media

I’m a child of the 80’s, and I grew up listening to Whitney Houston and her amazing voice. As a teenager, I remember singing and dancing to her songs with my friends. A particular song that will always be one of my very favorites is One Moment in Time.

I can vividly recall facing some challenging moments when I was in graduate school pursuing my doctorate. I don’t come from a long line of college educated people. In fact, my father and mother were some of the first in their families to get a college degree. My dad grew up in rural Mississippi and can remember when his family got indoor plumbing and electricity. Needless to say, figuring out how to navigate a doctoral program and all of the demands on my time, energy, and intellect was not easy. I didn’t have anyone to call on who had done it before to ask questions or to seek encouragement. I longed for someone who had faced this particular hurdle to tell me, “You can do it!” But there was nobody who could do that. Have you ever had those moments in life, when you’re up against something that you believe you can beat, or you’ve bet your heart on achieving something, but in the hardest part of the fight, you start to wonder if you can really do it? Most of us have had those times in our lives, whether it’s in learning to be a parent, chasing our dreams, striving to build a healthy marriage, fighting to start our own business or career, or pushing ourselves to complete a degree. There are those moments in life when we’ve stood at the starting line, left the blocks and begun to run, and then we start to doubt ourselves and our ability to finish the race. Can we do it? Do we have what it takes?

As I faced classes that challenged me more than I had ever been challenged, professors who pushed me and difficult material, trying to believe that I really could do this, I remember listening to these words, “Each day I live, I want to be a day to give the best of me. I’m only one, but not alone. My finest day is yet unknown.” Tears welled up in my eyes as I took heart from those words and Whitney’s powerful, magical voice. Now, I know some people thought that Whitney’s songs were overdone and schmaltzy, but at that moment, the power of the message reached me. Have you ever experienced that with a form of media, the way a truth can reach out and grab you and convict you, or touch your heart, or change your mind?

The beauty of artistic expression and media like songs, music videos, books, television and movies is that it can touch the audience right where they are. That song was written for the Olympics, but I know I’m not the only listener facing challenges in my own life who was encouraged by those words. I’ve been accused by some of thinking that media is evil, that it has nothing good to offer. That is so far from the truth. The reason that I push media makers to make media with social responsibility is because I believe so strongly in its power to touch our hearts and minds. Media makers work with mediums that move their audience, that persuade them, that make them believe, that make them laugh or cry. Media is a beautiful and powerful force. I call those who create and work in the media to believe in the beauty that they can create and to think of the power that they can wield. Even with all of her struggles in the past few years, Whitney Houston leaves behind a powerful body of work.

Take a few minutes to watch the video linked above, and just let that song wash over you. Whatever you are facing right now, whatever ways you are struggling, dare to believe in your moment in time. Let us continue to reach for our own moments in time, let us continue to strive to be all that each of us believes that we can be. Let us call media makers to create more beauty, to believe in their own power to make a difference in this world.

“Give me one moment in time when I’m more than I thought I could be. When all of my dreams are a heartbeat away and the answers are all up to me. Give me one moment in time when I’m racing with destiny. Then in that one moment of time, I will feel eternity.”

One comment on “One Moment in Time: Reflections on Whitney Houston and the power of media

  1. Tony Catania
    February 14, 2012

    “The best music… is essentially there to provide you something to face the world with.”
    –Bruce Springsteen

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