Why not say „No!“ sometimes?
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.
People have stopped saying “No” out of fear they are going to miss some opportunities in life. They will eat anything, not because they are hungry, but because they fear they might be. They will accept anything, forgetting that opportunities do not arise out of the blue, but are created. Through work, principles, morality, empathy and honesty. It is the “No!” that has the same significance in our lives as “Why not?”. If “Why not?” is what motivates you to step on the gas when thinking you are heading in the right direction, then “No!” is the same as pulling the brakes to save your life when you see everything is going down into the abyss.
No! I didn’t come here to compete with anyone. I leave that to those who love flaunting medals, I would rather choose serenity. I didn’t come here to keep silent in the face of evil. I leave that to those scared of their own shadow, I do not even keep my mouth shut underwater if facing injustice. I didn’t come here to shy away from anything. I leave that to those afraid of dying, I fight endings with love. I didn’t come here to stay forever, but to leave something behind.
Those scared of dying are to be avoided most. They drive on empty, because they never planned to get very far. They never lost everything they had because they never gave their all to anyone. They have never loved anyone with abandon because they have always been too busy loving themselves. They are afraid of the end because they never finished what they started.
Therefore, No! I have no time for those who only love themselves, for those who are only interested in earning money, not living, those searching for perfection while losing their selfhood, for money worshippers, avengers, people who bear grudges and those without humanity. I do not want to waste time on condemnation, lack of understanding and fear. Say “No!” to relationships with no future, people who drive you mad, a family that won’t let you be who you are and the society that points the finger at you because you do not fulfil its expectations.
And if you wonder if there is anyone today you can say “Yes” to – I’ll tell you “Yes. There is!” When you see someone genuinely being happy for someone else’s happiness, say “Yes” to that person. Such people are the rarest today, but you are safe with them. If you don’t know something, learn it from them. If you are looking for something, ask them where to find it. If you want something, take it from them. They can never lose anything because everything they have acquired, they carry it in themselves, they are never tired of people because they run on sun and will never hurt you because they do not know how to use weapons, but will love you to death, and a few heartbeats more, because they know how to deal with matters of the heart.
Translated from the Serbian by Svetlana Milivojević-Petrović