The first time it happened to me was in 2001, when I read in the morning newspaper (yes, back in those times) that George Harrison had died. I remember being suddenly overwhelmed by emotions and ended up sobbing over my morning mug of tea.
Later I was pondering what happened. Yes, I did like the Beatles and I did like George Harrison among them best, but the extent and intensity of sadness was puzzling.
As I was staying with the emotions for the next couple of days, I started to realize that this world suddenly felt a lonelier place to be. As if a dear brother of mine, a soul-mate had left and I was more alone… And it also felt as if an important voice, bringing a specific and much needed energy into this global field, has gone.
Next time it happened after I have seen the movie Cirkus Columbia in the local cinema in Ljubljana. It was a beautiful movie about the last days of Yugoslavia, country in which I grew up, full of tenderness, specific humour, with some legendary Yugoslav actors… While unlocking my bicycle outside the cinema after the movie was over, emotions suddenly erupted in me and I ended up sobbing for next 15 minutes, right there, on the cinema’s parking lot, with my then-wife holding my hand.
It was a deep mourning and sadness running through me. About the beautiful country with six nations, three languages, three religions, in pursue of togetherness in diversity… Sadness about what we had and what we lost. And a deep and scary sense that this was gone for good, and that even the memory of that energy field, beauty and love is gone and in a generation or two it will all just be some dead letters in history books.
Next time I remember it happened when I learned about the death of David Bowie – again I felt sad and lonely and shaken for a couple of days, not only having a sense that I was somehow lonelier in this world, but that an important messenger of the world left. Again a sense of loss for the whole world.
The last time it happened I finally also started to understand it all. It was in February this year, ten days after my birthday, that I heard the news from my friends in Slovenia that Đorđe Balašević passed away. While most people in the territory of ex-Yugoslavia will know who this is, of course, I want to say a few sentences about this man for readers from elsewhere. You see, Đorđe Balašević was a Yugoslav singer, songwriter, a poet… He emerged on the stage in late 70’ and remained very much present until his departure. Strictly speaking he was Serbian, but in his heart and voice he was devoted to Yugoslavia and his songs were about simple beauty of life, about nostalgia, about melancholy, love, tenderness… Amidst the war in Yugoslavia he was one of the loudest voices for peace and one of the loudest critics of Milošević’s regime. He was also the first Serbian musician to perform in Sarajevo, Bosnia, following the four-year siege and bombing of the city, by Serbian forces. The hall was full, and everybody was crying.
Like I was crying the whole day after learning the news of his departure and seeing live footage from every capital city on the territory of ex-Yugoslavia, where people started to gather on town squares, lighting candles for Đorđe, singing his songs, holding hands, hugging, crying together…
This time I knew I was not alone crying, it felt like a collective Yugoslav heart crying, remembering it all for a moment, standing in a long and warm embrace, singing together. This time I understood that my tears were mourning the departure of beauty, of the memory of the beauty also of the messengers themselves.
And I started to understand that the messengers of possible beauty inevitably leave, yet the messages stay and need to be picked up and carried on.
I believe it is your job and mine now, to carry the message on, to continue …. until we learn to live in harmony and flow.