Niš – “Love and live your life according to feelings coming from your heart, and remember, the road to an objective – experience - is more important than the objective itself, because it is on that road that we build ourselves up”. This is a message aimed to all of us, but especially young people, uttered by one of the heroes of our Internet community, Predrag ‘Peca’ Damnjanović, founder of the site Vesti.rs and of the forum My City.
“Although already as a baby I was ‘marked’ with a diagnosis of cerebral palsy, I have filled my life with happiness and love. I learned that life does not have to be gray even though I was not particularly lucky from the very start”, Damnjanović told the Serbian House of Good News.
This wonderful young man I interviewed in Serbia’s second-biggest town, Niš, can serve as an example to everyone, an incentive to all of us to switch on our dormant lights. By his work and his life Predrag sends out a message that one should never surrender, that we should love life as it has been given to us for some reason, because it represents experience on the genuine road of self-awareness of each one of us.
His serious medical condition did not stop fighter ‘Peca’ Damnjanović, from completing an education, working and living his own life – he has an office in Niš, he lives away from his parents, he has a rich social life and has very diverse interests.
Vesti.rs is followed by 30,000 people every day
”I have my office which I share with my high-school pals, where they service computers and I do my own work, I have my own car. My younger brother Nenad has now begun to work with me at the office – he is a great help with everyday business, and it has become much easier for me now that I can rely on him for certain projects in which we are involved”, says Peca.
“My day begins at around 8 a.m. when I wake up, have a coffee, and at nine-thirty my brother picks me up with the car and together we drive to the office, where was arrive at ten. We work together until 6 p.m.”, he adds.
The programmer popularly known in the Internet community as ‘Peca My City’ was born on 12 March 1983 in his hometown Niš. He graduated from the local Svetozar Marković secondary school and in August 2002 registered his own firm My City – Agency for Internet Services, and the forum www.мycity.rs. The forum, launched, administered and developed by Peca, with the MyCity Team taking care of the graphics, now has over 200 topics mainly covering IT and over 550,000 visits every month.
In 2008 Peca launched the portal Vesti.rs – one of the most popular aggregators of Serbian news, with over 30,000 daily visits.
”I work on Vesti.rs on my own; it is an automatic aggregator which collects and transmits news from other sites”, he told us.
“I am a programmer, and because due to my palsy I could not play ball with my friends, I spent my free time with my computer. I got my first computer when I was six, and I spent all my free time with it, because I could not play like the other children. I attended primary school in Niš like all the other kids. My younger brother Nenad was born in 1988, my father is named Bratislav and mother Andjelka. Seven years ago I became self-sufficient, I wanted to have my own peace for my work, to have an office in town”, he says.
When he was about ten, after he had a basic understanding of working on a computer, his father bought him a book named The Basics of Programming, and that’s when everything started. “From that book, and later many others, I gradually made my first steps in the world of programming, so that already in the third grade of primary school I wrote my first programme – it was a quiz, a very simple programme in Basic. Later, in secondary school, I took first place in the regional IT competition”, he adds.
Positive Energy is Very Important in Life
Peca, who also writes poetry, predominantly love poems, because he believes that love inspires us and guides us in life, recalls the words of the late Belgrade poet Duško Radović that people who know how to love should never do anything else in life. Peca thinks that positive energy is very important in life, because it attracts other positive energies and positive events and assembles wonderful and positive people.
“Very few of us are aware that we are part of the Divine being. I see my life as a spiritual experience, believing in the immortality of the soul. It is not belief in God (because the word ‘belief’ is too inadequate and pallid), I feel God, his presence in me, and everywhere around me, a feeling of total spiritual peace, I first felt it three years ago. Every thought has its energy. There are very few spiritually awakened and conscious people”, Damnjanović told us.
Predrag also likes classical music but not all, only that which agrees with him spiritually, and also loves nature very much, taking daily walks (using crutches) through one of the parks in Niš. “You take every step with love, because it brings you together with nature, which is pure love, just like you yourself. Love circulates through nature all the time, you will be a part of the net transmitting that light, the highest love. You will be the source itself – the source of energy and love. Simply put, you will glow and light others, who need help, and in the happiness of unconditional loving and giving you will elevate your soul until unimaginable limits”, he said.
Love and Enjoy Little Things
”I will repeat: you must love. The moment your every move becomes imbued with love – life gets its depth, purpose, meaning. That is when the outcome of events in your life becomes unimportant to you. It becomes immaterial because you realise with both your mind and your heart that each moment you are realising the highest possible meaning, and you will no longer see every problem in life as a problem, but as an experience, a path along which you will build up your soul even more”, Damnjanović told us.
Asked how to reach all this, how, in Peca’s words, to reach those heights at which you will no longer be preoccupied with the search for love and happiness for yourself, but will look what you can offer others and thereby outgrow ourselves and our own problems and feel good, Damnjanović says ”Begin from yourself, love yourself”.
“Learn to love yourself a lot, forgive yourself all the mistakes you (unconscious of making them) made until you found love in yourself. Love yourself, listen to your feelings, and respect them – because your heart knows best what is good for you. Your heart is simply the core of the love hidden inside you – that is why it knows what is best for you – because it is pure love. Follow your genuine feelings, in that way you will never make a mistake.
“Find what you enjoy – and organise for yourself enjoyment as often as possible. In that was you will always be filled with positive energy. Enjoy little things, because if you wait for big ones your entire life can pass in that waiting. There is no ‘inappropriate’ moment for enjoyment, every moment is given by God for enjoyment, every moment is the best moment for it. Every single moment you can feel your internal love and enjoy it. ‘Paradise is here and now’, Jesus said. I feel that truth with my entire being, paradise is really here, in us. All that needs to be done is to feel it.
“If Paradise is not in yourself, you will never enter it” Peca quotes Dostoyevski, adding: “Live in harmony with nature. Nature is peaceful and well-balanced. So should you be. Do not be nervous, do not hate your life, do not live in opposition to nature, but accept the harmony of nature, be a part of it.
“Rid yourself of bad thoughts. Turn your thoughts towards positive things – oscillate on the frequency of good energies – in that way you will summon more good energies – glow and sing in their rhythm – become a part of them, a part of nature”, Damnjanović says.
The More You Give – the More You Will Have
”Love others. Tell others every day that you love them. The more love you give, the more you of it you will have. There will be more love around you. Love the world, and the world will love you. Love your life so that you can build up a mutual love between yourself and your love. From the bottom of your heart smile at every new day, the morning sun, fallen leaves, a flower, a tree, nature. Love nature – and it will return that love, you will be surrounded with love in every meaning of the word.
“By loving others, loving all of nature, the whole world, we actually love ourselves, because we are that nature, its integral part, we are that great love”, says Peca, whom the life received at his birth brought to genuine perception and self-perception, only a part of which we can convey to you here.
In this interview to the Serbian House of Good News, Peca stressed as very important that by our love we show the way to others. “When we love others, what we do is help them to recognise and genuinely live love in themselves.
“Love is the purest way of perceiving and transmitting the truth,” he said, adding: “Spread love and positive energy, surprise others with good things, be a creator and an engine of positive changes in others. Bring good news to people and enjoy seeing smiles on their faces. Simply become a source of everything that is good.
“In this way you will give yourself great joy, the joy of creation, and also help others – many will benefit a great deal from your love – help them – fill both yourself and other which the highest love and remember: the objective is not important, but the path to that objective, the experience, because it is on that path that we build ourselves up! If you should fall in an attempt to realise something – it’s good. Get up. Try to find another path. You can reach happiness, peace and love in a thousand manners, not just the one you have decided on for yourself,” ‘Peca МyCity’ says.
Messages for People with Special Needs
Asked what he would tell people with special needs, how to overcome the obstacles life has placed in their way, Predrag points to a cheerful spirit and a smile in their hearts, and, of exceptional importance, positive energy in themselves.
“It is easier to live in that way. There will be less sorrow, you will feel well, and will also attract positive things to yourselves.
“Physical activity, if nothing else, will make you feel better, because the body maintains itself and feeds itself through physical activity, feeds with positive energy”. If you can, he said, choose an achievable goal for yourself – even if just a small one – if you work daily on realising it – you will move from a dead end, you will make a move – which will fill you with pleasure at the end of the day.
He says that the Internet offers a lot of opportunities for work. “Follow the social forums, they are a source of ideas, you will find there a lot of things you could be doing. Do not waste time on Facebook, where you will generally find nothing useful (with a few exceptions, from which one can learn something, such as the profile of Dragan Varagić or the fan page Emotional Intelligence). Begin using the Internet to learn something, there are a lot of things you can learn and then do from home (via the Internet) earning good money.
“If you are lonely and think that you cannot be happy unless you have a boy/girlfriend – I must say that you are mistaken, just as I used to be. The love of a partner is not the only way to achieve genuine happiness. Quite the opposite. As long as you think that someone else should be the source, stimulus or reason of your happiness – you will never achieve genuine happiness and true love. Love is in you. Happiness is in you. Peace is in you. Monks know that perfectly well, they willingly rid themselves of all outside things, because they know that the Supreme love is in themselves, and they dedicate their lives to it.”
Proposals to Competent Institutions
“Do everything you can to make life easier for people with special needs. Circumstances have made life more difficult for them – you are those who should make it easier for them”, says Damnjanović, asked what competent institutions should do to help persons with disabilities.
In his view, the new strategy of the Ministry of Education for children with special needs to attend regular schools is a good starting point. “Persons with special needs are often isolated and discouraged to join society – assume an initiative, design ways to involve such people in society, show them that they are a part of society, let them feel that”.
“There are associations of people with special needs, organise in cooperation with them their attendance of every event in the town, book promotions, cinema and theatre performances, sports events, concerts ... Involve these people in every pore of society, they are shy and withdrawn, but it is you who should show them that they are a part of society, you must make that initiative. Those people must feel that they are part of society.
“If there is no organised transport for persons with special needs, a couple of mini-buses would solve that problem, and make life much easier for those people and help them to join in social life much easier”.
Proposals for Those with No Special Needs
“Try not to avoid people with special needs. It is only a further discouraging factor for them, besides all their existing problems.
Do not make differences between ‘you’ and ‘them’ but do the opposite, show them that they do not differ from you – which is true – on the most important plane, the spiritual one... Here there are no differences at all – we are all wonderful souls!” – Predrag ‘Peca’ Damnjanović told us.