Sometime last year I popped on an episode of Ten Percent Happier that hooked me. “The Many Benefits of a “Paradox Mindset” | Dolly Chugh”. This is an excellent episode and an exemplar of how interesting Ten Percent Happier can be. The episode follows exactly the benefit of having a “Paradox Mindset” but also takes on the idea of the “long time ago illusion”. A term that it seems Dolly Chugh has coined herself.
Now, if you google “the long time ago illusion” you get a lot of “illusion of time” results. This isn’t quite what this idea is. The simplest way of putting it is that things that happen aren’t always as far away from us as they seem. The big thing that was going around that explains this was a post reminding us all that Anne Frank, Martin Luther King Jr., and Barbara Walters were all born in the same year -1929. Yet these three people all held significance at different points in history.
It’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day in the United States. This was a standard holiday growing up, we always had a three-day weekend for it at school, and we grew up honoring Martin Luther King Jr. with the lessons of what the Civil Rights Movement was. It felt like rote history, something similar to the solidity of George Washington being the first American President or Queen Elizabeth I.
It felt so far away from me, and the black-and-white pictures proved it. I grew up in the age of the grainy cell phone footage becoming this monstrosity of lenses I carry in my pocket. The progress feels normal, not wondrous. You can argue that the black and white pictures are on purpose considering there was color photography in the 60s, but that’s not entirely the point. The point is, especially in the world of 2024, fifty-six years ago feels like ancient history.
My grandparents were young during The Civil Rights Movement. My aunts and uncles were kids when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. The events of the last century are not that far away. We still have first-hand accounts, waiting to tell their stories.
With that in mind: I present to the readers a list of podcasts to help fight against or break the Long Time Ago Illusion.
This might not seem like the episode for this - but it’s a great introduction to the idea of how the way we speak has changed over time. Figures like John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. orated in a way that feels like ancient history - but felt normal at the time. Technology has changed so dramatically that our expectations of public speaking have changed drastically.
This podcast does a deep dive into the JFK Assassination and helps `to round out the history that’s there. Why is this important? I’m nearing 30 years old and this not-so-ancient-history stayed somewhere in my high school curriculum. I can’t remember details -odds are if you’re an American and not deeply interested in this history - you don’t either.
Did you know that LBJ’s wife, Ladybird Johnson, kept an audio diary? Listen to the former first lady’s voice talk you through the years after the Kennedy assassination and to the end of her husband’s presidency. Insightful, and a spectacular reminder that she was one of the first of the presidents' wives to take on legislation in such a direct way. Not only that, she passed away in 2007. She’s not ancient history, and her perspective is more than insightful, it’s downright vital in my opinion.
Possibly the most powerful series to fight against the illusion. This whole series outlines the 1968 Sanitation Workers Strike in Memphis Tennessee. A movement that molded with the Civil Rights Movement, with Martin Luther King Jr. getting involved, and being assassinated before the strike was resolved. The most impactful part of this podcast is how it weaves in current interviews, interviews taken years after the events in Memphis and reporting from the time. A reminder that these movements are intertwined, and didn’t happen that long ago.
These are just four episodes to think about today.
These are episodes that aren’t completely about Martin Luther King Jr, but ones that help remind us that a lot of the history we consider closed - is very much open. As we continue towards Black History Month here in the United States, these are important elements of our world to remember. Nothing was as long ago as it seems, and so they have to be considered when trying to move forward.