I cannot help but think of Madiba during lockdown. I cannot help imagining what it must be like to be confined and isolated in a single room for twenty seven years!
Twenty seven years! That's nearly 10,000 days! Wragtig! It makes 21 days, 90 days and even 180 days seem like a walk in the park.
What is more remarkable than the twenty seven years spent by Madiba in a small room though, is how he emerged from it. Ignoring the prevailing conditions in the country around him at the time, setting aside the injustice, and what he had to endure, we would still expect most people to emerge from a twenty seven year isolation a lot worse off than when they started.
With this expectation we could imagine some justifiable, logical, and understandable choice of mind set, behaviour and action to be made - 'under the circumstances'.
We could predict a choice to have stewed, become embittered, angry, retaliatory, violent. The expected behaviour leading from this would be to go out and seek revenge.
It's what most of the movies and a fair number of the good books expect under the circumstances. The good ole eye for an eye. Few would have found this unusual or remarkable. It would have been the expected choice.
Imagine the Mandela story in the hands of some of the script writers of our day. Oscars all round for wreaking some of the bloodiest mayhem the world has ever seen.
But no. Madiba made a different choice. It was not the rational choice. Not the expected choice. Not the choice that should naturally have led from the tide of events. That would have been the easy choice. The anticipated by many choice. The human choice.
Yet Madiba chose to go against the tide. Swim upstream of ego, world affairs, projections, as well as world expectations. He chose not to behave like a mere mortal, but to elevate himself, through his choice alone, into the realms of superhuman. Superhero. Avatar of our time. In so doing, he changed the tide of not only Africa, but also the world.
I am not sure if our recent highly enlightened pope would consider sainting a non catholic, but if he did, I think Nelson Mandela should be first in line.
What we learn from Madiba's choice, is that every single one of us has the power to turn the tide. No matter how the tide is flowing, no matter how fast its flowing, no matter how long its been flowing for. We can turn the tide with our choice, our focus, our intent, and our belief.
No matter what is happening, it is always our choices that define us. Every moment of every day, we get to choose – what to say, what to do, what to think, what to feel, how to behave – in other words, how to configure reality. No matter what reality says to the contrary.
Can you imagine what enormous faith and belief and intent you have to have, to hold onto a dream for 10,000 days against all of reality showing you a completely different picture? Not just a slightly different picture, but a radically different picture.
Year in, and year out, Madiba sat and held the space, while violence and mayhem reigned, while naysaying and all manner of negative scenarios for the future were being calculated, statisticalised (I just invented that – I am writer – I can do that) and projected by people of all races – not just in South Africa, but in the world at large.
Yet Madiba held onto the vision, fed it energy and hope and faith, believed it, and made it come true against all odds. He ignored the tide. He overrode consensus belief and projections and probabilities to reconfigure reality into something completely different.
That's master manifestation! That's courage. That's holding the space. And it's exactly what we need today, to turn the tide.
We need to focus our intent on the wholesome and the good. We need to demand positive outcomes. We need the courage to imagine the world and all on it getting better, stronger, healthier, wealthier, more loving, calm, compassionate, full of light.
We need some new empowered choices of living and being. Good for all choices. Benefitting all policies. Transformational leadership. Enlightened, conscious action. Kindness. Compassion. Love.
We need to stand together and hold a new space of becoming. We need to chose it and to believe it. We need to choose the light. We need to not only choose it, but to then create it and bring it into being with our focused intent, unwavering faith and trust, and refusal to contemplate anything else.
Let us us call on the Spirit of all enlightened beings past, present and future to help and guide us to choose a new vision for the future.
Spend a moment now, adding your focus and intent and energy to that. And so it is.
Now is the time to call on the Spirit of Nelson Mandela to arise in all of us.
What would Madiba be telling us today? I think he may say:
“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears."
Beloved Elder, we salute you!