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Blog / / Sustainability of Life
13/01/2021
Sustainability of Life
Veran Matić Executive Director of Serbian Philanthropic Forum and Chairman of Fund B92 Management Board
Sustainability of Life
When Werner Herzog (the films ’Fitzarraldo’, ’Wojciech’, ’The Enigma of Kaspar Hauser’…) received information in 1974 that the great filmmaker Lotte Eisner was very ill in Paris and that she would probably die, he told his friend that it could not happen, not now that German film still needed her. He took his jacket and compass and set off on foot from Munich for Paris. ’She can die later, when we let her.’ And that shamanic walk brought another ten years of Lotte Eisner's life… Herzog described everything in the exciting diary ’About walking on ice’, which has been published in our country this year. In the epilogue, Dragan Dimčić says that the magical act of the Herzog's walk was so powerful that in 1983, ten years later, Lotte Eisner had to ask him to take the spell off her because her life no longer had meaning. ’Yes, Lotte, you can die now,’ replied Herzog, and so it was, eight days later.

… This year, one of the questions arises more than the others: what can we do to save ourselves from the disease, to get over it without consequences, to help our people successfully go through the challenges?

Prevention is the most effective and we have known this for a long time, but we successfully ignore it. The entire system is set up to react post festum, without much prospect, with expensive pharmaceutical and medical surgeries.

… We often worry about the sustainability of nature, humanity, the planet, the Arctic, … and forget about considering the ‘sustainability of our own lives.’

How much can we do or try to reduce the possibilities of illness, to keep the body in a state where it can successfully perform tasks related to existence and all the needs we have, from the work we do to cultural, spiritual and other needs?

… The background is extremely important for the meaning of life we practice. A positive attitude towards other people, animals, plants seems to be of elementary importance.

Empathy for all. It often seems to be a complicated practice, who would remember that, in addition to everything we do, in addition to the worries we have. But superficial planning can easily lead you to the situation of donating blood several times a year, of becoming a potential bone marrow donor, of having a clear decision on organ donation in the event of death, if possible. As well as regular attention to vulnerable groups, support activities through the various mechanisms now available, from text messages to donations through standing orders. As in the case of donating blood, bone marrow, organs, and donating small amounts of money, when we have a large number of participants, it can move hills, save lives, make life better for those who suffer. Memorized donation platforms, such as donacije.rs, are very convenient because there are always interesting initiatives on them in which you can be useful, get involved.

With these small steps we become better societies, not just better people.

By buying ’Lice ulice (Faces of the Street)’ from a distributor on the street, you are helping them survive, but also by talking to them, you are making them part of a community that has in some way excluded them.

When you buy a book of poetry, you connect with the poetess-poet (these days I enjoy ’My mother knows what is happening in the cities’, by Radmila Petrović). ’There is a lack of empathy in the world, and poetry is able to produce large amounts of empathy,’ says another poet.

… If we do not resist evil and dangers that surround us with kindness, there will be no necessary counterweight that strikes the necessary balance. For me, charity is the key to balance even when something good happens to me, because that good of mine also needs a counterbalance. I believe in compensation, but certainly not in the sense of ‘I will give you two evils for one good.’

… Activism, engagement, reacting to daily stimuli, finding your own angle, through which you can contribute, is a very important part of empathic behavior. Usefulness, positive attitude. Dissatisfaction, passivity, anger, rage, they know how to block, and it seems to me that it has been proven in medicine that these feelings are the ‘hallway’ of the disease.

… The counterbalance to sitting at work, being static, are certainly sports activities. It’s always easier for me when I set some goals, so running a half marathon has helped me make running a daily routine, and dealing with myself during that hour or more is a mental exercise.

I often believe that we are ‘born to run’, as the journalist Christopher McDougall claims in the book with the same title. The same goes for swimming, which helps with disc herniation. Because of it, and at the urging of my wife, I started practicing yoga, and now it is part of my daily routine. Practicing an hour of yoga after a full day of work completely refreshes the body, the brain. After the exercise, you are ready to rest. Exercising in a group with instructor Tijana, thanks to whose great guidance I quickly became ‘infected’, was an effective basis for quick learning, but the group also has a therapeutic effect. Now we have a small distance on the Zoom with the same group, but the efficiency is the same, with the fact that we now have a prominent family exercise, which is an important support and mutual encouragement.

(The names of the positions in yoga say it all: the position of lightning, heroes, lions, cobras, grasshoppers, eagles, cranes, mountains, trees… a dog looking at the sky, a dog looking at the floor, a dog peeing…)
Intensive cardio training with a dedicated instructor Slađana, enabled me to stabilize energy, strength and establish weight balance through one-on-one work (very important due to proper exercise, correction).
All these activities significantly affect the increased secretion of serotonin, endorphins, dopamine, happiness hormones, pleasure signals, and analgesic effects. Everything that is important to us in the fight against depression, fear, to strengthen immunity, body and spirit.

Last year, I got a watch that measures all the activities, compares, reminds me of the cycle of deep breathing, warns of the need to get up from a chair and walk… it looks a bit silly when the watch tells you it's time to get up from your chair and walk, but it helps.

… For years, I have been taking ‘imunomed’ in the morning and in the evening, made by a relative who has built high quality in cooperation with bees. The film ‘Land of Honey’ reminded me of that balance in nature, which is sharing with the bees what they produce, that is, of the greedy appropriation of resources, the entire honey products, which dooms the bees to die. I believe that the combination of honey and pollen helps me, precisely because of that many years of constant use. These days I also got chokeberry juice, as a seasonal elixir.

Before work, I stop by the market and around the market, most often at the Olivia organic food store, because I think that, whenever possible, we should make an effort to reduce the risk of herbicides and similar poisons.

The first thing I do when I get to the office is prepare smoothies, dominated by vegetables, because I ingest it less through regular meals. I flipped through an extensive book on celery in the bookstore… certainly with some exaggeration I found out that it is good for a lot of things, so I decided to make a special one made of celery in addition to the standard smoothie. I'll make it for a while. (recommendation for celery - Hippocrates, a recipe is simple, blend the tree and celery leaves in an adequate amount of water and drink).

Since I started working in the vicinity of the market where it is possible to choose fish and let it be baked in the same place, I have drastically increased the amount of fish that I otherwise really like in relation to meat. An acquaintance from London called me these days asking for help with founding the Flexitarian Society Foundation. I didn't even know what flexitarian was. Now I think it is an important mission in Serbia, how to reduce meat intake… Not to abolish, but to strive for meat not to dominate, but to replace it with fish… Because of our health, our sustainability, but also because of sustainability of the planet.

The same aspiration is important in choosing everything you use, buy. A lot can be achieved if you take a little more care to buy things made from recycled materials, to separate waste for recycling whenever possible efficiently, not to cause additional damage to the environment, to do everything you can to revitalize, humanize the natural environment, when you can.

To regulate sleep, I regularly use melatonin, which is also useful as an antioxidant (recommended by Sanja Toljan, MD, whose books on hormones I published), vitamin C, usually 1000 mg (recommended by Linus Pauling, double Nobel laureate), and other dietary supplements occasionally and as needed, depending on exercise intensity.

… Work through the B92 Fund Foundation, Serbian Philanthropic Forum, Charity Coalition, Philanthropy Council, Samizdat B92 Publishing House, Commission for Investigation of Murders of Journalists, various organizations for protection of journalists, resolving the issue of missing persons… are exhausting, but at the same time, the results charge the batteries.

…. It seems to me at the end of the day, when I look at what my watch tells me, when I see the results of the actions we take every day, with a routine about my own sustainability, it seems to me that it is a solid basis to welcome a new day, new challenges…

To return to Herzog and the end of his walk, a pilgrimage of 800 kilometers. In the room where Lotte Eisner was lying ‘… feeling embarrassed, a word went through my head, and as the situation is certainly already embarrassing, I decided to say it. Together we will, I said, light a fire and put fish on it. She looked at me, smiled sweetly, and as she knew I was the one walking, she understood me. In one wonderful, brief moment, I felt something tender pass through my deathly tired body. Open the window, I said, I've been able to fly for a few days…’

It seemed adequate to me to publish this text, which was supposed to answer the question of how I established or tried to establish a life-business balance in the time of the COVID crisis, which still causes panic and great fear.

Every epidemic is an opportunity to transfer knowledge about preserving health and prevention in a broader sense through very interested media. Also for the systematic establishment of a stronger health system, for the introduction of a modern health information system with the help of which all information is available at all times. All this would raise the possibilities for a better response to future waves of epidemics, or new epidemics, would protect better healthcare professionals, and increase the efficiency of treatment. But, unfortunately, that has not happened yet. It is up to us to do enough in our commitment to make investing in human health a priority, because all investments in other resources - in armaments, fashion industry, entertainment as we see it become completely meaningless when national and global health is at stake.
AUTHOR
Veran Matić
Executive Director of Serbian Philanthropic Forum and Chairman of Fund B92 Management Board