I have spent the last year in a land where time is an obsession; where people live squashed into sardine cans but die of loneliness and isolation every day, where retail therapy is an addiction; where identities are defined by designer labels, where brand names have replaced personal names, where fake tans are a status symbol – worn as badges of success; proof that youâ??re wealthy enough to indulge in sun-soaked holidays abroad…

A land where people are held hostage by time

Itâ??s a land where silence is extinct, senses are constantly assaulted to the point of desensitization, where overcrowded, overstimulated, overactive excess is the norm, where greed and waste are a way of life, where youâ??re afraid to push the pause button in case youâ??re left behind, afraid to be alone, experience silence or think for yourself; where I longed to hear a real human voice instead of impersonal digital monologues; a place where people are held hostage by their toys, their mortgages and their images, and most of all by time.

This is also a land where banking is fast, easy and incredibly efficient, where the currency is the strongest in the world. A land where you can buy anything, anytime and have it delivered before youâ??ve put your phone down; a land of instant communications and non-stop power supplies.

Time stands still in the land of my birth

In the space of 10 hours I have been catapulted back into the land of my birth â?? Zimbabwe, where time stands still â?? and so does everything else! The deprivation and hardship is overwhelming; the struggle for day to day survival intense. Iâ??m grateful for five hours of power a day, a cold shower, five litres of petrol, where food is not a choice, but a much sought after luxury.

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Prawn stir-fries and camembert have been replaced by â??take-outsâ?? (where you take anything edible out of a tin). Five minute microwave meals have been replaced by two hour cooking marathons by torchlight on a woodstove, belching smoke from a funnel on the veranda. Making a phone call or sending an email can take days; sometimes weeks.

We need time to talk and time to laugh

But suddenly thereâ??s so much T I M E! Time to talk, time to laugh (because if you didnâ??t youâ??d cry), time to think and always in the midst of all the hardship and deprivation time to reach out and help one another instinctively. The claustrophobiaâ??s gone, the air is clean, the warmth and friendship and laughter cross all barriers and wrap me in an old familiar security blanket.

Iâ??m drunk on the smell of wood smoke and dust, my senses saturated with splashes of scarlet flamboyant flowers, luminous mauve jacaranda carpets and dusty pink msasa leaves swaying in the wind. My skin is soaked in sunshine and I walk barefoot on grass and dry earth again. Thereâ??s robin song at sunrise, the perfect stillness and torpor of midday heat-waves, bullfrog lullabies and the magical full moon as it rises over the mountains is the eveningâ??s entertainment.

Time to hit the pause button and head for the nearest Spa

Is sleep something you vaguely remember doing in the past, has your appetite headed for the highway along with your libido and is escaping to the pub becoming increasingly attractive? Our psychophysiology was not designed with a man-made definition of time in mind. No wonder we donâ??t adapt well to technological overload, juggling ten tasks at once and interminable deadlines. So why not hit the pause button and head for the nearest Spa?

Pamina Mullins is a Personal and Corporate Stress Management Consultant, Hypnotherapist, Life Coach and author of Stress Slaves, published by Kima Global Publishers, Cape Town. She can be contacted at mapani27@yahoo.co.uk  


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