December 3, 2009

mtima tradeoffs

Mr. Mtima lived in a world of milk and honey and complete self-knowledge. In his world, everyone knew what they wanted and placed exactly the right amount of value on getting it. For example, he wanted a promotion, and day after day he jumped through hoops for his boss. He wanted a cup of tea but wasn’t prepared to leave his comfortable chair… Oh yes, Mr. Mtima made excellent ethical decisions all the time, there were no grey areas.

Unfortunately this made movies a little dull; he knew exactly how many people should die to save George Clooney’s life. He knew exactly how many people should be locked up to protect America’s freedom. And he knew exactly when the actors reached the tradeoff point that made it not worth it… when the price was too high to pay… when the ends stopped justifying the means.

You see Mr. Mtima valued his inner peace, more highly than anything else... and it had to be protected against looters. Oh yes, he had a built-in burglar alarm; it shrieked when his neighbour made kachasu out of ARVs, it screamed when his employer dodged MRA, it moaned when his worker sold fuel on the black-market and it wailed when his cousin bribed the police. These dodgy deals would certainly have stolen Mr. Mtima’s deep contentment, and he knew it wasn’t worth the tradeoff.

The programme officer at the next desk was so beautiful it took his breath away, her body called to him… she was innocent yet cunning, naïve but sensual. Mr. Mtima’s imagination quaked in desire, oh for an embrace. When she walked past he would sigh involuntarily, then smile, then look away, as his brain screamed expletives at his cowardice.

Mr. Mtima suspected that his precious peace contained his whole essence; he threw himself into feeding it, nurturing it. For him that meant a little bit of art, and lots of time with people he loved. He got thrills from talking to his two daughters, occasionally enjoyed the vicissitudes of football (arsenal), and often enjoyed extreme intimacy with his wife (that’s enough about that!). His pleasures were simple but ultimately satisfying.

The aforementioned police-bribing cousin was dear to his heart, but Mr. Mtima could not understand her… why she gambled her self-esteem on one little man, why she threw away her sense-of-self chasing a disinterested guy, why she lost her self-respect bending over backwards for a word of approval. He watched as a shared laugh, a private conversation, an email… formed a bond in the wrong context - without commitment, which grew stronger and more and more inappropriate, more risky. Mr. Mtima watched sadly when things fell apart and the spark in his friend’s soul was dampened.

He did not earn much, he was not clever or especially handsome, but Mr. Mtima knew the truth about what made him happy, what kept him peaceful, the things that made him calm and gentle... he was the most powerful person I’ve ever met.

Ref: 'Never offer your heart to someone who eats hearts' by Alice Walker


  1. This was an interesting read...(ok, I know that is becoming a cliche) I kind of misunderstood mr. mtima at first but it made sense later... Initially I thought he lived in ambundance and had everything he ever wanted (milk and honey) but realised that he was just content with what he had. would have enjoyed to hear more about his inner struggles... but in essence I think it does explain the concept of guarding your heart quite well.

  2. Some are like the cousin becoz they seek love or they seek to find themselves by losing themselves in another.
    Kahlil Gibrain says of love "...that you may know the secrets of your heart, and in that knowledge become a fragment of Life's heart. But if in your fear you would seek only love's peace and love's pleasure. Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing-floor, Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears."
    No love is blind crap in this. A love that is aware, a love that makes us naked in our own eyes and cannot give us peace when we sacrifice our values for the pursuit of another person.

  3. some may say ignorance is bliss....mmh....but mr.mtima is not ignorant! we should all be striving for that inner peace, that place where no jealousy, greed or cruelty exists...but bak to reality, its dog eat dog world my friend...every man for himself!!!!

  4. Blessings Samuel Phumisa04 December, 2009 11:15

    Mr. Mtima knows how to choose his battles...

  5. I wonder if Mr Mtima's heart is really at peace when all about him are people who have lost locks to their 'selves' and he is concerned...a bit of conformity is quite some peace

  6. LOVE IT!!!!!!!! Sounds like some people I know who don't know what to do with me!

  7. "A happy man looks forward to waking up in the morning, sleeps soundly at night, and does EXACTLY what he wants in between."

    Unlike with gravity, we're empowered with the ability to make deliberate decisions in choosing a way of life that facilitates optimal appreciation of the precious gift we call life. follows therefore, that whether or not our time on earth is all we've got, heaven and hell can be experienced either way: in this lifetime, FOR SURE; MAYBE in the afterlife; and MAYBE in both lifetimes. Good news is, we can help what happens in THIS LIFETIME, or at least to an extent it is within our sphere of influence. Mr Mtima is case in point in epitomizing a realization of this fact.


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