Day 26. Nelson Mandela reminds us of the importance of time during lockdown

Now that people have settled into accepting lockdown circumstances, the question is: What are people doing with their time?

Using your lockdown time

All over the internet active groups have popped up doing a plethora of things including art, cooking, new hobbies, music, exercise programs, business programs, reading, learning, dancing and singing, to fill the new time on hand.

New programs at schools have been launched and households have reorganized themselves with new schedules. It is as if the world has fallen into a new kind of rhythm.

One of our current motivational factors is – making the best use of time.

The importance of time and timing   

We live in a time and space reality. It takes time for things to happen. We are worried about the time it is taking to recover from the effects Covid-19 virus pandemic. We fill our time with things to do.

Time and timing regulate the heartbeat of life. Everything we do is according to a time-set. Everything is organized by the clock. There is a rhythm to life…

We even have a biological clock.

Our biological clock

At a deeper level we have a biological clock. It is an innate mechanism that controls the physiological activities of a person and other organisms which change on a daily, seasonal, yearly, or other regular cycle.

We also have circadian rhythms. It regulates sleep and awake patterns, the production of happy hormones and many other processes. Everything in our body functions according to a set time and rhythm. The heartbeat is rhythmic, so is our breathing and the rest of our body functions.

We especially think of those health workers who are currently overworked and lack sleep while working long hours, especially nightshifts.

On a genetic level, we even have clock-genes that can switch on a off at certain times, certain ages and for certain purposes.

We even have a universal time. There are universal processes that take decades or centuries – even milennia. Everything is seasonal. Nothing lasts forever.

Everything in our current time and space reality depends on time and timing. Subconsciously we cannot keep on functioning effectively, without keeping time.

Keeping time is a natural human instinct

We are familiar with films of people who have been incarcerated, scratching marks on walls to count the days. People lost at sea and stranded on an island, also make marks in trees or stones, in order to keep time.

Keeping time is a natural human instinct. It is part of our reality.

The big question is: What happens when our sense of time and timing is disrupted?

Time and timing in prison

When one is incarcerated, especially in a small space for long periods of time, your perception of time and reality becomes blurred. The biological clock is thrown off balance which can and does have serious physical and/or psychological implications. In some cases, people can literally ‘lose their mind’.

Madiba was very conscious of his compatriots who had significant issues with time and timing while being incarcerated. He too had serious problems with time and timing while locked up in different prisons, especially his time on Robben Island. In his auto-biography[i], Madiba addressed this issue by reminding us:

 “Losing a sense of time is an easy way to lose one’s grip and even one’s sanity.Nelson Mandela

Problems with time and timing

Many people have specific issues related to time and timing. It is important to know that – time, future vision and emotional trauma are directly interlinked. Most people who have unresolved emotional, personal traumas and tribal, religious or collective issues, live in the past. Emotional baggage and traumas weigh one down. It keeps you back.

There are people who keep on struggling with what is over. They struggle with what they don’t want and can’t find it in them to let go and move forward. People, even groups, cultures, religions and countries then lack a positive future perspective and new vision. They find it difficult to change, grow and to move forward.

At a group or tribal level, the traumatic experiences of the past are embedded in the collective consciousness of the tribe and are constantly calling for recognition and resolution. If these issues are not attended to, they could and do keep pulling individuals, groups and even nations back. Many of our political issues give us a glimpse into people, countries, religions even nations, who are ‘stuck in time’.

When people clear up their emotional baggage and heal trauma and wounds, they develop a new vision and a perception of the future. Time and timing are then perceived in a different way.

At this deeper level we also find social, cultural and religious scars playing out in different destructive ways. In Africa there is ‘Africa time’ where people are always late, hardly ever meet deadlines and/or just ignore time restraints, all together. Not only did Madiba address the trauma of South Africa through the TRC, he also had important advice where time is concerned.

 “We must use time creatively, and forever realise that the time is always ripe to do right.” Nelson Mandela

Lockdown is giving us an opportunity to hit the reset button, to reboot the systems, to clean up, clean out, let go, heal, forgive to learn to love and to begin a new season.

Lockdown can be the time for a new beginning.

To do list

Here are a few ideas to help you on this path:

  • What are you currently doing with your time? Why?
  • How have your patterns changed during lockdown?
  • How will your patterns and programs change after lockdown? Are these changes for the better?
  • Are you using your time to just be still and do nothing?
  • Remember, you don’t always need to be busy. Make time to just be still. Just be.
  • Remember, sometime the best things come unexpected.
  • Don’t always want to force everything into a mold so that you can feel safe. Allow things to unfold.
  • Remember, there is a time and place for everything
  • Make peace with change and feelings of uncertainty
  • Contact us if you need any assistance
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Stay safe – stay connected

Brenda Hattingh


[i] Mandela, Nelson, R. (1994). Illustrated. The long walk to freedom. The       Autobiography of Nelson Mandela. Little, Brown & Company: London.

Hattingh, Brenda. (2014). Sevens steps to securing the Madiba Magic in life and          leadership. Currency Communications (Pty. Ltd.); Johannesburg.