ever

I walk through my folders and files and piles

growing each day

feels okay, I guess

I sit on the bed to untie my shoelaces

my favorite activity because

I know exactly what I’m doing

and it seems of utter importance

to untie them properly

and of none to clean up the mess

how will I ever impress

what do I expect of this

am I entitled to expectation

stupid question, of course I am

on the other hand, it depends

on how much I try to resolve the piles

and for now

I have no expectations

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Rebel Rebel

Recently my entire class has been asked a question by our sociology teacher: do you think there are many rebels nowadays, and why? The answer to that was one of very few things the entirety of my class has ever agreed on: there’s not much rebellion today. Why? People don’t care about the community anymore, someone said. Young people have everything they want and no need to complain, said another. Then another one jumped in to say that we are manipulated to think we have everything we need and want, when actually we’re seduced and hypnotized into fake needs by the marketing industry and the media. Each of these answers deserves a special post for itself; alas, I decided to sum them up in a unique article about the world we live in today. Not very easy to manage, but I’ll do my best…

In my opinion, it’s true that people don’t care much about the community. However, I don’t think it’s a syndrome of the new age; I think that it’s in people’s minds to tend to take care of themselves and their own needs before taking care of the community. People are altruistic, yes, but that refers to an individual helping an individual; when it comes to a group or a mass, altruism changes into something that psychologists call motive of divided responsibility. An individual tends to think that, since there are other people in the group, someone else will surely react and there’s no need for them to get involved. Bad or good, nowadays it’s becoming the rule of our lives: don’t take part if you don’t have to. There are many people, young or not, discussing the world around them every day and coming across various problems that need solving and things that need changing; but they do not get involved. They don’t do anything. It all remains in the domain of fiction, because I can’t deal with that. I don’t want to start anything. Why bother? It’s such a drag. In the end, I’m not doing that bad to want to make a significant change. I’m happy with what I have and too lazy/unwilling/insecure to argue. There are people out there who are up to it. It’s not my place to do it. And so on.

This is where, I think, the problem arose – and that too has been mentioned as one of the answers to the original question: apparently, we have all we need, so why complain? Okay, we may not have all – one might even be so bold to say that, with mankind’s increasing greed, we’ll never have it all – but we have quite enough to keep satisfied and quiet. Yes, a change might be made here and there, but it’s not that important – it’s not absolutely necessary – so nobody protests. This is what I think differs now from 1980s or 1960s or 1789. People back then were shoved into a corner and told to make a life out of that. They had problems that choked them, socially, financially or any other way. Nowadays, people of the modern world seemingly don’t have such threats.

Or do they? Aren’t we forgetting, say, North Korea, Middle East, Africa…? Those people seem to be pretty life-choked – and they are very well protesting as much as they can. And what are we doing to help them? Is it getting any better? The answers are disappointing to the least.

Perhaps that’s another reason people don’t rebel – they think it’s in vain. What’s the point of trying, working hard to be heard, having so much at stake, if the achievement is next to naught? What’s the point in making a fool of yourself? – because there is no one else protesting, you’re the first one. You need to start it. What, me? Oh, no, not me. I’d rather somebody else did that. But we all would, wouldn’t we?

This is, of course, connected to the previous factors, most of all with the absence of necessity. Which then leads us to the question: if it were necessary, if the situation would be so bad that it would be absolutely necessary, would we rebel? In my opinion, we most certainly would. It is not in human nature to suffer what it doesn’t like.

It’s just that, as strange as it might sound, we like this. We’re used to how things work, we have enough to be satisfied (or we think so), so we ignore what we dislike, since we don’t dislike it extremely. We grew accustomed with certain unspoken rules of today’s society – just like all people did during history. And I believe we will overcome them, as they did; but I don’t think it’ll be done in rebellion. It seems to me that the rules will, one by one, slowly drift away and be replaced by new ones, without anyone noticing it as it happens. There will be no great revolutions or drastic changes, as one age will simply leak into another.

This is my point of view and it might not (actually, it probably won’t) agree with yours. Bear in mind that I live in Serbia, where things hardly ever change, not only because of what I’ve listed here, but also for a number of other reasons connected to Serbian mentality, national history and general state in the country. All of those have made this a very interesting topic for me to explore.

So, what’s the conclusion here? Are there rebels? Where are they? Should there be more of them? And how do we make it happen? What do you think?

Now what? (Smudged future pt. 2)

Okay, so I’ve established that school taught me pretty much nothing, and the world is now expecting me to do something with the nothing I’ve learned.

Let’s ignore the absurdity for a moment and focus on me. At this point, I have a choice. I can either stay next-to-naught educated, belay all the wrong things (because there is no way you can make up for twelve years of missed lessons) and try to focus on making a living out of what I have – a little bit of talent, a little bit of pretending, a little bit of faking and you got yourself a life. Or I can reject a partial, insecure life in which anyone can crush me with my own ignorance, and choose knowledge instead.

What knowledge, you ask? Why, the knowledge that I want, of course.

Let me explain.

First, I need to sort out what I like and dislike, what I love and what I want. What is it I want to do all my life? Photography? Journalism? Theoretical math? Making airplane models out of chopsticks? Whatever it is, you must know. You need to know yourself very well and, therefore, stick to your decision once you decide – no matter how hard it may be.

Here comes the tricky part. You now need to see your options, possibilities, about doing what you want to do. What will it take? A diploma, a working experience, a business plan? In most cases, you will find that you need to learn more. You know some, but not much, of what you need to know in order to, say, go to university or open your own workshop or give tango lessons or whatever. Before you start working on getting what you want, you need to learn. On your own. The school might have something to help you with, but the chances are, you will have to do most of it by yourself. That’s why it’s important to bring the right decision: if it is right, you will be sure of it and you won’t have a reason to give up when it gets difficult. And it will get difficult – sooner or later you will run into something you can’t understand or can’t deal with, something that will confuse you, discourage you, make you feel unfit for your goal. That’s when the decision itself becomes the most important: be sure that it’s the right thing for you to do, that that’s what suits you and that’s what you should be doing. Only then will you be able to continue, stronger and more confident than ever. And as you move forwards, you will realize that you’re actually perfecting yourself and getting better at not only what you want to do, but also at doing other things, at understanding people’s ideas, situations, and generally, at handling what comes your way.

That is what you need. That is what no school has ever been able to teach you: working towards your goal is building you up. It’s significant, because you’re doing it on your own – you claim control and responsibility over it. It’s yours. Your life, your future, your reality, in your hands.

Make it something you’ll be proud of.

Smugded future

If I had been taught from the beginning, would my fears now be winning? – Pearl Jam, Education

I don’t know if you’ve ever wondered about Serbian education system. Probably not. Well, here’s an easy explanation of how it works: it doesn’t.

It’s supposed to work like this: give kids eight years of primary education, that should be enough for them to decide what they want to do with their lives. Based on that, they choose a high school, and based on that choice they can or cannot go to a certain faculty, a choice that results out of twelve previous years of education.

It is seemingly designed to give us as much choice as possible. However, in Serbian high schools, you only get to choose which one you go to. Most schools have two, three or several educational profiles, often not too different from each other, so you pick one of them, and based on that, you get a list of subjects you’ll be studying in the next four years. No choices. Nobody asks you about your interests. You don’t get to say “I would like to study this” or “I’m not at all interested in this” about anything.

Another problem about Serbian education is its poor quality. As for the teachers, they suck. I’ve been at school for almost twelve years now, and I’ve had maybe five good teachers out of, say, fifty. They have little knowledge of either what they’re supposed to be teaching, or how they’re supposed to be teaching it. Most of the time they don’t even bother – not even with talented students who attend competitions. On the other hand, the entire web of subjects and the division of their parts into our school years is done quite badly. We’re taught to separate and divide rather than to connect and make a whole of our knowledge; what we end up with is an insecure mind with little knowledge and less certainty of how, when and whether it’s even possible to use it. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? What have I been doing for the past twelve years of my life? And then your mind snaps as you realize: shit! I’m supposed to do something with what I’ve learned! But what? How can I, when I haven’t learned anything?

That’s when it turns out that actually, all this time, you were just wasting time. There’s a handy word for that in Serbian – džabalebarenje. It means sitting around, doing nothing, or doing something insignificant.

Why is nobody focusing on this? Why does no one think of this? Is everyone really so indifferent about their education? I want to learn – to actually learn! If school can’t teach me, than what’s it for?

Are you kidding me?

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Race the Clock.”

This is exactly the kind of topic I could never walk away from. My favorite type of writing is precisely this: just throwing everything out in a couple of flashes of thought, just the way it is, more like a stream of consciousness than an actual article… Who says streams of consciousness are bad, anyway? They show what one’s mind is truly like, and that can be more valuable that a perfectly planned 10-hr-written text.

So, thank you for this, Daily Post! You made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.

I’m supposed to walk out with five things out of a burning house?!

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Burning Down the House.”

You know, it’s not that easy to load your hands with five things at once while running for your life at the same time. This means that I would have to take two or three things, take them out, and then go back for the rest of them. And if I’m to re-enter a burning house to collect a couple of things, then they would be things of extreme value.

1. and 2. My phone and headphones. Communication with others is unimaginable without a cell phone nowadays; also, I can’t afford to lose my music. I wouldn’t bother carrying out the entire laptop, it’s getting old anyway, but the phone is an electronic storage of my most important music tracks, my photo album of memories and my dearest messages. And the headphones are something I cannot bear to live without – if I couldn’t turn the music up straight into my ears and shut down the rest of the universe, I wouldn’t hold up much longer.

3. My diary collection. Yes, the entire stack of notebooks, all the way from third grade up to now. I would never forgive myself if all of that got lost, no matter the reason it did.

4. The guitar my dad got me as a birthday present a couple of years ago. I’ve always wanted to learn how to play it, but have never had the time to. I bet this would make me do it. If anything, I’d be forced to play it in the streets to get me some money, right?

5. My mum’s golden necklace with a tiny Bambilike deer on it. When she graduated from high school, her mum, my grandmother, gave her that. If there’s anything she would come back for, that would be it.

Entry of a panicking individual

Alrighty then! When it all comes down, I’ve got three hours to clean up the room, do optics research, write an introduction to my astronomy paper, finish 150 pages of Game of Thrones, and prepare for my philosophy course. Sure. I can do that. Oh, by the way, what am I doing now? I am writing a blog post, naturally. You should always waste time when you don’t have any. Time is not the boss of you, rule 408. Long live the Doctor. How bloody ironic.

The point is that I know I won’t be able to do all those things on time. But right now, I’m pissed off. And when that happens, I must prove to the world and to myself and to time that’s so cheerfully toying with me that I can do all that, and more. So instead of calmly putting everything on paper and saying okay, this is the plan, I start doing everything, immediately. It’s excessively exhausting.

I’m never going to learn, am I?

So, the whole universe will be happening at once, and it will be me who’ll be held responsible. By me. Another in a sequence of paradoxes.

Truth be told, I do love paradoxes. And no matter how pathetically low my chances might be, I don’t give up as easily. Let’s risk it to get the biscuit!

Must go!

Doctor, Jesus. Jesus, Doctor.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Pleased to Meet You.”

One sunny April morning, Jesus woke up lying on a cold, metal floor. His head was aching and his limbs were all sore and covered with bandages. As he dreamily looked around, he realized that not only he had absolutely no idea where he was, but he also shouldn’t have even been able to know that – he was supposed to be dead.

His head was pulsing, causing unimaginable pain, as he was trying to put the pieces of his memories back into a clear image. The last thing he remembered was the cross, naked and bloody freezing… Why am I alive? And how did I get here? He kept asking himself endless questions, endlessly unanswered, as he was trying to determine where he was. He sat up straight. He could’ve sworn he’d never been there, yet the place looked oddly familiar, as if… But that’s impossible, isn’t it?

In his somewhat misty memory there was a man, a strange-looking man, that had appeared the night before and said something about an escape plan… He had a box, a blue box… He looked around once again. It couldn’t be. His memory may not be serving him well, but he’s still got enough reason to compare sizes. The blue box was tiny, and this… This…

“Hey, Jesus!”

A shout interrupted his stream of thought. He looked up to where the voice came from and saw a strange-looking man – the same stranger he had seen before – standing on the stairway above him, leaning onto the handrail.

“I see you’re awake! Well, good morning to you! I’m the Doctor, and you’re probably wondering where you are and how you got here. We talked about this, but I doubt you remember, since you had quite a bad day at the cross – you do remember the cross, right? Anyway…”

He was talking too fast and it seemed like he would never shut up. It was making Jesus’ headache even worse.

“… you should have lasted a little longer, at least until most of the people were gone, but you passed out early – and who could blame you? After all, we’re only humans – well, you are. All in all, it took me a bit of running and pushing, but in the end I got you into the Tardis on time. The nails were a real pain in the…”

For some reason, he stopped. Finally, Jesus thought.

“… never mind. When I got you off the cross, your pulse and breathing were fine, so I decided to let you rest… And here you are. So, how are you?”

Jesus kept looking at the blabbing man; by the time he finished his tale, he had already come down and sat on the floor, right beside him. What is the kind way to tell him that I have no idea what he just said?

“Um”, Jesus started shyly, “would you mind repeating that? I couldn’t quite catch what you said.”

“Always kind, always modest, that’s how we like you!” he said with a smile. Jesus had trouble understanding that too. His head felt like it would burst with cold water.

“Yeah… You don’t get any of this, do you?” the man said after a pause.

“I’m terribly sorry, but no.”

The man smiled and nodded.

“Well, I suppose it’s sometimes good to leave things unexplained. The mystery will do well for the fame”, he said and moved around a small red piece of cloth around his neck.

“F-fame?…”

“Yes. People will celebrate you for centuries”, the man said, hands still on the red cloth. He must have noticed Jesus staring at it.

“Oh, you like it? I know, me too. Bow ties are cool”, he said in a happy tone. Suddenly he looked at something on his wrist and his face changed.

“My! Look at the time! Um – I must go now.” He took Jesus’ hand and shook it a bit too many times as he was speaking: “You should see the exit right after you get out, it’s not a big tomb. In any case, just follow the light.”

“Light?”

“Yes. And here’s the door!” the man said as he slightly pushed Jesus out. He shook his hand once more. “Jesus, it was a pleasure!”

The door slammed shut with Jesus out. All he could do was stand there, mouth slightly open, and wonder what in the world just happened. And then, as he was trying to solve the mystery, another miracle stroke him right there: the door he just got out through, the door of that huge metallic room with pillars and even another floor – that same door was the door to the small blue box he remembered, the box he was now standing right in front of.

It – it’s bigger on the inside?

As the thought emerged, the box started making noises. With every repeating sound it was fainter, as if drifting away, evaporating, until it finally disappeared completely, and Jesus was left alone.

It stroke him. This is God’s work! It must be! O, God!

And so Jesus followed the light.