Since being good and being foolish have always gone hand in hand, today everybody, trying to avoid being labelled as foolish, chooses to present themselves as evil. They claim to be protecting themselves in that way. It’s better to appear unapproachable than dumb, it’s better to be unresponsive to communication than someone who’s easily made a sucker. By way of some twisted logic, it has become better to go through life convincing others you are not that good to banish the possibility they might think you are either foolish or stupid.
Shall I make it this time? How long is life going to drive me in neutral like this? Where am I going and how long will it take me to get there? If I get off at the next stop, will it be too far from home for me to come back? What if I am already too close to the destination so I shouldn’t be getting off at all?
I got the scar on my left ankle when I was five years old while I was playing hide and seek. I cut my leg on a broken beer bottle. My tendon showed. The one near the navel I got after an operation. Nothing serious. I survived. This one on the cheek – the one you cannot see with the naked eye – that’s from life. It slaps you sometimes. I’ve got used to it.
They say people become wiser with the passing of years, but being a crank myself, I realise the faster they slip away the less I know. They say you learn from other people’s mistakes, but I have to experience mine a couple of times before I even get to realise they were actually mistakes. It seems to me I do not learn anything with the passing of time, but that I actually unteach myself all the things I see other people do. Someone could say I am a rebel, but I would say I love people. In a world in which a coin is worth more than a hug – it boils down to that. As soon as it is perceived that you are not guided by your wallet but your feelings, they start looking at you as if you were a guest in an era you do not belong to, having been banished into exile through a time portal.
Sometimes life puts us to the test not because we should learn something new, but to revise the stuff we have already learned. To check whether we really know something, or it’s just empty talk. To see how we put into practice what we talk about in theory. There are enough A-graders, know-how experts are required now.
New Year’s Eve is a day just like any other. It is an ordinary night separated from dawn by alcohol. A bizarre night confused by our counting. A night scared by firecrackers, shivering with cold like a puppet behind a toilet seat. It is just another repeat of the same night, the same as its yesterday’s predecessor, and even more similar to its tomorrow’s successor.
You can’t escape growing up. It hits everyone. It can be earlier or later for some people. It often happens overnight. All of a sudden. It strikes you at the most awkward moment. Like a fever and shivering at a late hour, it shakes you hard, leaving you completely exhausted to make a confession to the dawn. You grow up even faster at night. In the dark. With no advice, or acceptance or support. Those who have been duly prepared for life are a rare and privileged species. A more common way is to go from a baby walker straight to a hurdle race, from the multiplication table to trigonometry, from riding with training wheels to riding on a motorway. You have no choice but to learn, know and want. In short, you have no choice but to live.
If you are currently reading this, it means, first of all, that you have finished some schools, that you can read and that you can use modern technology. Also, that means that you have a roof over your head and a bed to sleep in. If you are reading this, it means that you have a computer or a smartphone. Or both. You also have access to the Internet, a paid bill and most likely a bit of extra money left after you pay all the expenses so that you can afford this little luxury. If you are reading this, it means you have time. Free time. At least a little. And that is a big luxury today. All these things put you in the group of only a few million people out of 7 billion people living on this planet at present, and on the local level that puts you in the group of only a few hundred thousand living souls among 7 million Serbs living in Serbia.
How are You? Haven’t heard from You in a long time, even though I know You are here. Nearby. I haven’t written to You in a while, but I do think about You often, and now is the time.
First of all, I owe You a sincere apology for not believing in You for the last quarter of a century, even though You have been my honest friend. Then I owe You an apology for being easily manipulated, for believing others more than You, for listening to those lies on the outside and silencing You while you were screaming the truth from the inside. I beg You to forgive me for leaving You all alone down there, for wandering and not coming back to You, for leaving You worried.
As with most other people, life has not caressed me. But people have. And they did it so well. Sometimes with their eyes, sometimes with their words of comfort, sometimes through touch, but always sincerely. They would appear as if on command at the most critical moments. And how healing, spontaneous, those caresses were, not asking for anything in return while giving their all.