27 Feb, 2024

It’s Not Where You Are. It’s Who You Are – Episode 11

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“Liberation from oppressive and stressful external circumstances is essential, but that is only possible if we first liberate ourselves from the tyranny of our ingrained biology of belief.” – Gabor Maté

Who are you?

At a higher level, answering this question is a dilemma. It is not as simple as saying your name, because the real you are more than the label and circumstances you are in. Searching for your true self involves detaching yourself from the beliefs and ideas that society has imposed on you.

How do you do this in a world that bombards you with insurmountable challenges and keeps you attached to status and material things?

These are some of the insights we are going to delve into in this eleventh part of the series ‘Where you are is not who you are.Dr. Ray Sylvester and I organically started this game-changing sequence in November 2023.

If you have not listened to the previous segments, we encourage you to do so. We want to help you gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of yourself as well as of others, for with it comes joy, peace, and calmness.

It is time to start a new season in your life. Focus on today and discover the authenticity within you.

 You do not have to be defined by external measures or by the conditions you are in. Who you are is a choice. It is a decision you make.

Decide to be your authentic self now.


~ Doing something difficult gives you a profound sense of who you are.

~ The external world you operate in impacts your internal existence.

~ Where you are now is a result of yesterday and tomorrow will be a consequence of today.

~ Attachments help us understand the authenticity with which we are born.

~ Authenticity is connected to circumstances and experiences. It has no competition nor compunction.

Important stories:

~ 4:48 The tension between the outward and inward existence.

~ 9:30 Who you are as opposed to where you are.

~ 14:53 Becoming aware of oneself.

~ 18:10 The authentic self and the attachments made.

~ 22:37 The authenticity within.

Send us a message and tell us what is your biggest takeaway about this episode. 👇🏼👇🏼👇🏼


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About Pete Cohen: Pete Cohen is one of the world’s leading life coaches and keynote speakers. Hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world have been motivated and inspired by Pete’s presentations. He has professionally impacted the lives of thousands of people worldwide, including business executives, professional athletes, and everyday people.  Pete focuses on the importance of closing the gap in our lives between where we are and where we want to be, both personally and professionally.

It’s then all about coaching you to remove the obstacles that are in your way and helping you install the habits of success.

Pete is the author of 20 published books, several of which have been best-sellers across the world, including Shut the Duck Up, Habit Busting, Life DIY, and Sort Your Life Out. He has also presented his own show on TV called The Coach and was the resident Life Coach on GMTV for 12 years.

Pete Cohen (00:01.356)

Ray, good afternoon. Good morning.


Ray Sylvester (00:04.731)

Good morning, good afternoon. How are you, Pete?


Pete Cohen (00:07.47)

Yes, I'm very good. Thank you very much. And looking forward to us having this conversation. This is like the 10th podcast. Actually, it's the 11th. It's actually the 11th podcast that we have done on this kind of season of where you are, isn't who you are. And I think as a season, it wasn't something that we really planned and thought, let's do a series of podcasts. It just happened organically and it has been a real...


Ray Sylvester (00:09.979)



Pete Cohen (00:37.198)

game changing experience for me. And for many other people I know that have been going through and listening to these podcasts, lots of younger people, lots of people of all ages have been listening to this. And I wonder, first off, just throwing it back to you, what do you think it is about this subject of where you are, isn't who you are that has captured people's attention?


Ray Sylvester (01:02.651)

question, Pete. I think from the conversations that have emerged from the subject matter is there's two worlds that we operate in. The world that everyone sees and it really by default means that we get caught up into the business of the presentation of self to the world and the attempt to make sure that we look good in that world.


But what we've discovered as we've gone through these themes is that while you're doing that, simultaneously, often even before the evidence -based external world, there's an internal world going on. And I think that's what really started our conversations is what does this internal world look like?


Pete Cohen (01:30.222)



Pete Cohen (01:44.878)



Pete Cohen (01:51.182)

Yeah. Well, it's definitely been really fascinating for me. And I really want to just take a moment to thank you for encouraging me to walk this path. You've said so many things that have had a profound impact on my life. And, you know, one of them being around stopping, we started recording podcasts together in July 2023. And we've we've carried on. And now this is the 11th in this kind of series. And to actually stop.


and think about who I am in relation to where I am, or not even relating to where I am, just who I am, regardless of where I am, has been deeply profound. And, you know, I think that when you ask the question, who am I, if I ask someone that question, it's a difficult question to ask, isn't it? Because, you know, if someone came around my house and it was a postman, I'm not going to say to the postman, who are you? Well, I know he's a postman, right?


But if someone came around to the house and I didn't know who they were, and they knocked on the door and I answered the door, and they didn't say anything, and I'm just standing there, I'm bound to say, who are you? Right? Because it's important. But we don't really, I don't think, we don't ever really stop and think about who we are. And I think there's a part of us that knows. And maybe as we continue working together and doing podcasts, that might be a subject that we can...


do a real deep dive in for people to really get to know who they are. But I feel I know myself better than I did a few months ago, even though I've gone through a very challenging season in my life.


Ray Sylvester (03:35.131)

I would agree. I think there are lots of examples of what you just said there Pete. So I'm reflecting on how do we go about reflecting on the tension between outward existence that everyone sees, everyone acknowledges, and what some people would nervous about is this intangible, some people call it the metaphysical world. What does that mean? I would add this though, because I think one of the conversations we had,


is that there's a thread line going through at the moment between the external and the internal. And a really good example of this, which is probably more accessible to people, is the increasing people having plunge pulls fitted in their home. Because bizarrely, when you expose the external part of the body to extremities, for short periods regularly, it has an extraordinary impact on the internal.


And I think it is not something we've actually covered during the series, but it shows us this tension between the external and the internal. And part of the narrative there is we have the parasympathetic nervous system we've talked about the way we cope in the world and that dominates us. And we have the sympathetic nervous system that's supposed to regulate us at rest. Well, you've committed very much to this process. When you look at that, can you remember a time when you didn't do it?


And can you really see the difference that when you challenge your external following something like Wim Hof, the impact it has on the internal regulating of you? Have you seen benefits?


Pete Cohen (05:19.342)

I think what happens is with cold water exposure or just doing something that often is difficult to do, that after you do it, I have a profound sense of who I am. I'm extremely aware of my existence. And I often say that for many people, when we know that we're most alive is actually when we're not well. We're most aware of our... I mean, listen, I was just also reflecting that...


In the recording of this series of podcasts, I've been to CU twice. I've been to Indianapolis twice. I've been in Portugal, Italy, with this, this I've been to lots of different places, but we I'm so proud of this series that we put together. And if this is the first in this series of who you are, where you are and who you are, please, you know, go back and listen, because you see Dr. Ray and I going on a real journey. But I think it's that we don't ever really stop.


and think about who we are. But sometimes we do things which make us aware of who we are. And it could be exposure to cold water or exercising really hard or it could be lots of different things. Unfortunately, it seems to take diagnosis, prognosis, disasters for many of us to wake up to looking at the world differently. And obviously, with my wife passing away and you being with me, it's been the biggest stop of my life where...


nothing is the same. Everything is different. And I think it is different because I'm different. And it's very easy, I think, for people to stay where they are or to stay in the memory of where they were when something happened. And again, I'm being totally honest here, Ray, I still find it difficult. I've been back home now for a while. It's been the longest I've been here since my wife passed away. And I've had some really difficult moments because I've gone back into memories of where we were sitting here.


And, but I'm still extremely committed to being who I believe I was put on this earth to be. And I'm sorry to go on so much about this, but I don't want to forget this because you said something to me a few weeks ago and I've really thought about this. I really, really thought about it. And it's, you said, Pete, when you were at school, you struggled and...


Pete Cohen (07:43.694)

you were labeled dyslexic and, you know, being at school was not something you enjoyed. And you kind of compensated by being funny and being outgoing, but at the same time, you connected to who you really were. And I could look back and think, well, if I hadn't have... Why did I choose to do that? Was it because the nature of me came out?


because this is who I am and maybe it wouldn't have come out if I wasn't faced with a difficulty or a challenge. What did you, is that what you meant when you?


Ray Sylvester (08:24.763)

So as you know, and some of the listeners might know, I'm very, very focused on appreciation of individuals. And the best way of understanding each other is to really spend time looking at each other's story. And biographical accounts of people are incredible. And if you look at the drive for many people in their lives, we can often just look at where they are.


Gordon Ramsay is a good example. Wow, Gordon Ramsay, I think he's done over 20 seasons of TV shows in America, which is unheard of. That just puts him on a new level, goat level. But if you look at his past, he has lots of trauma with family members that are abusive, driven by alcohol and drugs. He had incredible...


life changing perspectives of where he was. He was no longer a great football player. He got a career ending injury. But he made a decision and said, I'm going off to culinary school and a different direction. Now, where he is, is very successful. That doesn't necessarily mean we know who he is. When you know his story, the depth of who he is, is someone who...


is incredibly resilient, someone who embraces challenge and who is an overcomer. When we start to understand those attributes, it means that our environmental situation is just a condition and it's a season. It doesn't define us. And I think what I've learned in our journey together here, Pete, is that, and the feedback we've got, there are so many people that are defined by those external measures because the season they're in.


they've decided and remember they have to, who you are is what you decide. And if anything, I want this podcast to be an encouragement that whatever season you're in, that's not the definition of you. And actually you have a stake in the definition of you. And that comes from the internal space. And the reason I mentioned the cold plunge, et cetera, because it's a really clear understanding for people to understand.


Ray Sylvester (10:48.315)

physiologically and scientifically and evidence -based that when you put the body through extreme pressure, even exercise, anything you do on the external, there's an internal response. And some people have called that exposure like an internal workout. I'm fascinated by people that regulate a balance. They overcome things so their environment didn't define them. Do you know what? I think mythology, storytelling, we all love overcomers.


anyone that has a story. So you're going to have people that want to know how you're overcoming your season. Well, that's a mixed message because you don't want to overcome to the point where you lose the memory, the life, the joy you had with Hannah. That's a part that you accept. And I'd love to introduce this concept of time, which is so powerful, is that you've just said something that was so enormously.


powerful that you've been at home for the longest period of time. And in that time, the memories come back.


Pete Cohen (11:56.534)



Ray Sylvester (11:57.755)

And that's just such a natural aspect to happen. But when the memories come back to the point where they suddenly crowd into your present time, it means your present time is no longer engaged and who you are really, I would like to say today is who you are in this moment. That's all you actually have is this moment. But where you are is a reflection. Many people look at their


Pete Cohen (12:09.006)



Ray Sylvester (12:25.901)

estate their collection of things, or their future gaze into their future self. But actually, where you are today is a result of what happened yesterday. And where you'll be tomorrow is a result of today. So today is really the only thing that we should focus on, which is why the journaling, the cold immersion wakes you up, you forget about other things, meditation, prayer.


Pete Cohen (12:47.606)



Ray Sylvester (12:55.131)

anything that allows you to attach to here. And I do believe depending on where you are and what you believe, you could be an atheist or someone full of faith in something beyond here. They all say the same thing though, philosophically is that the moment that you connect to you and are really consciously aware of you, there is a magic in that moment. But the moment you labor, and I think Pete, and I'll ask this question, there may have been days.


Pete Cohen (13:19.246)



Ray Sylvester (13:23.963)

back at home, which is so easy to happen in the absence of the discipline to stay in the moment, your mind gets drawn back to the familiarity of home. And suddenly you spend these, these periods in, you know, a space that's just melancholic and down.


Pete Cohen (13:32.782)



Pete Cohen (13:45.006)

Yeah. You said, actually, a few podcasts ago about how difficult it is to be a human. And I think it's true. I really do. I think the way that we are made up, I mean, it's amazing, it's incredible, but the way this thing is created, the way it operates, and the way it remembers, it is not easy. And if I don't stop, and if I don't become more aware of my own...


existence and how my thoughts and my feelings and my actions, if I don't become aware of those, then I just runs on autopilot, I could be a victim of it. And we know that we live in a world that it I drew a stick man today and just arrows coming in at the stick man and thinking about what's all the things that are coming in from the world messages of who we should be and what we should be doing all the inputs. And then and how that affects us internally, how that affects our environment. And then of course,


the trauma that we've all experienced in our life. And I must thank you because on that, this little journey, we were watching someone, we were watching Gabor, Mike Martin being interviewed, you know, the trauma expert. And I really dived into, there's one chapter in one of his books about healing and trauma where he talks about attachment, attachment and authenticity. And I absolutely, I have listened to that chapter.


Ray Sylvester (15:05.467)

and touch them here.


Pete Cohen (15:13.422)

probably 20 times because he is an incredible man. And he, he said, in fact, I was listening to something he said again recently where he said, and I'd love to get your opinion about this. He said that somehow, like the universe is throwing things at you, or whatever you want to call it, the universe, God, fate, throwing things at you. So the part of you,


Ray Sylvester (15:15.259)

He's an incredible man.


Pete Cohen (15:43.822)

And that's the part of you that loves you is doing that so that you can find strength and you can overcome and be better. Now, again, everyone is entitled to their own opinion and everyone is entitled to their own free will. But I really like that. And I've got real, what's the word when I've got real comfort in that? Because the last few weeks,


I thought I would be in a better place to where I am now. And just in terms of waking up in the middle of the night and really missing my wife and just, you know, melancholy thoughts that you thought. But you know what, Ray, I'm so proud of, I'm still so proud of myself because living in her memory and what she would want for me, but also I still stick to my rituals. I've got three rituals, right? And one of, I don't eat till 12 o 'clock every day.


I exercise every day and I practice Wim Hof every day, right? And they're non -negotiables and they just really help me come back to myself. There are other things I do, but I'm not absolutely meticulous about those things.


Yeah, sorry, I did say a lot there and I'd love to hear what your thoughts are about what Gabor Marte says.


Ray Sylvester (17:08.155)

Well, I think what he says, the reason why it's so powerful is it complements this journey that we've had the joy, I've had the joy of being part of, is that there's this tension between the real you, your authenticity, and the attachments that you accrue over life. So when you wake in bed, there's a natural attachment to missing Hannah. Now, here's the challenge for us, because we're almost trapped in this. We're trapped in...


a cycle as humans that we are defined by experiences. And we are fed those experiences through our five senses. What we see, what we hear, what we taste, touch and smell. And those five senses start from an early age. And we've had these discussions before. So a baby skin on skin contact ideally with a mother being fed and nursed, the smell of the milk, the smell of the mother, the bonding, and then growing and the visual cortex and hearing.


which is reinforced by the culture and the values of the family or their environment. All of those things start to form attachments the moment we are born. So this detangling of that process is not easy, because we all have that process. And I'm gonna share an attachment here with you. You were here over Thanksgiving. I had the joy.


Pete Cohen (18:25.486)

Yeah, yeah.


Ray Sylvester (18:35.131)

and my parents over here and I think I've shared a bit of this. But the day they were leaving, we went to the airport. And you I've had some non negotiables in in terms of things that I said I'd do and then my mom was at the airport. And she turned to my phone said, Oh, we've got some time with Ray. And my wife, should we get something to eat? And we're in this great big sort of food horn, the airport and my dad said, Yo, let's get something.


And I know I can recognize now that my mom told me, oh, there's not anything you'd probably want to eat here. And I went, oh, I'll have something. Because I immediately went back to an attachment where food is a celebration and it's bonding. And I was actually I recognized that going through separation anxiety, even though it wasn't outward, there was nothing anyone can see all invisible, but deep down, the who I am, the who I am, I decided to be started to comprehend.


be compromised, the authenticity of that was being compromised by the attachment that my dear mum said, oh, should we get something to eat? And we'd had the most incredible couple of weeks together. So I said, yeah, I'll have a Chick -fil -A. My American friends will know and Chick -fil -A is coming to England now, the second time they're going to try, hopefully it'll work out. That's another story anyone can look up.


But ever since then, and that was mid January, and we're coming towards the end of February, I've been in a season of compromise. Or according to what you've just said, I've been in a season of attachment. And what that means is I'm wrestling with the attachment that's deep, deep down, that was no longer an attachment to me before.


Pete Cohen (20:14.126)

Yeah, yeah.


Ray Sylvester (20:25.787)

And I had the same thing happen when I returned to the UK in the summer of 2022. When I came and I went to my parents, you want anything to eat? Oh no, I won't have that, I won't have that. And I could see the disappointment in my mind, oh, why don't you try this? And I tried it and immediately, you know, let's be fair, there are things we like tasting that we know are not great for us. So my authentic truth is I know how I should carry out my lifestyle to be the best version of me. I know exactly what it is. However,


as has been exposed who you are, that authenticity, I know, I just know, and then attachments. I've experienced this. We constantly are buffeting between the two. Does that make sense?


Pete Cohen (21:08.718)

Yeah, and what it shows me... And thank you for just being so honest about that, because that, to me, is what knowing thyself is all about. In fact, the Greeks who were famously known for saying that, in its origin, it meant about knowing your limitations. But actually, as it was developed, apparently Plato said, to know thyself is to know thy soul. Again, some people might believe you don't have a soul, but I know you do, and I do, and I think that what I see in you, Ray, is...


Of all the people I've ever met, you're one of those very few people who really know who you are. You know what you believe, you know your values, and I love the way you demonstrate that in your life. And it's been a real, you know, you show me the way, not by what you say, even though I love what you say, you show me more of the way just by how you choose to move through the world. But as strong as I perceive you to be, knowing your value and your meaning and your purpose and your mission, you're still fallible.


You know, you're still you're still, you know, you know, it's not that thing. I've said this before in podcasts about you can't unpickle a pickle. You just it's been pickled and we've all been pickled in some way. We're all we have attachments. And that's another hugely fascinating area about habits. And why do we have habits? Well, some people would say we would have habits so that we can forget the habit and just do it without thinking about it. It's automatic. And I think to survive, just to survive. So to unpack, unpack.


Ray Sylvester (22:08.667)



Ray Sylvester (22:31.963)

Yes. Yeah.


Pete Cohen (22:37.166)

Is that worth really doing it? Now, I can't answer that for everybody, but what I would like to think, and this is where you've really helped me, is help me even more appreciate who I am, but appreciate more who people are, create space for people, listen to people. But I listen to people and I now see so much quicker who the person really is and what they have, their greatness and what Gabor talks about in


the authenticity piece, which I love, he says, we are born with authenticity. But unfortunately, that part of us plays a lesser role when we're very young. Because it's all about attachment, because we're not going to survive. We won't survive a day without being attached to something or someone. And I like what he says about, you know, if we were living in the desert or somewhere where there's danger, you want your authentic self to


to be alert to what's going on, to give you the sense and the feeling that this is dangerous, we need to get out of here, we need to do something. And I'd love to, maybe we could start to wrap this up a little bit because I think it's time for us to start a new season. And we've said enough, I would encourage people to go back and listen to these episodes and come on the journey with us. But what I was gonna ask you about that.


Is, do you think that's the case, that there is an authentic part of us that just knows that we're not being true to ourselves or that we can be more, we can give more, we can serve more, we can do things that make us more fulfilled, more contented, more peaceful? Do you think that's in everybody?


Ray Sylvester (24:19.067)

Um, you mentioned a lot of mores there and you know, I'm sensitive to performance measurements. Authenticity doesn't necessarily mean more. Sometimes less is more. So that's the first thing I would say. Um, because we start going back to the realm of where we are and measuring things. I do this more, I do that more. Authenticity has no competition. Authenticity has no compunction. It just is.


Pete Cohen (24:26.124)



Pete Cohen (24:31.628)



Ray Sylvester (24:48.077)

attachments are connected to circumstance, attachments are connected to experiences. And not all those experiences are bad, let me say. So we will always have attachments. As I'm going through this season, which I've recognized now as the separation anxiety that a child might feel, I'm a grown man, still with those feelings with my parents. And it helps me.


to understand who I am. Anyone listening to this, it helps me understand you, the loss of your parents. As I'm saying that, you're living that experience, your dear wife. But I've been in America for eight years and I've seen my parents intermittently. And I've had to recognize that my authenticity brought me over here. I knew that that was something I needed to do. Couldn't explain it, but I did it. And my parents come in over the last time,


It was a time when we discussed that it was the right thing for me to do. And that's a big thing. It come particularly from my mom who said, I don't want you to go. It was part of my journey, but I stopped. And at the time shared 99 % of people thought, raise lost it. He's 99 pence short of a pound or cents short of a dollar.


So authenticity is a strange thing to define and you can go in all sorts of directions, but there is a sense of calm, peace, joy. It's gentle. It's not disruptive. It's not competitive. And there is the detanglement. How do you get to that? Who you are is just at peace. It doesn't have anyone to prove anything to. It doesn't keep a score. It's just gentle.


Pete Cohen (26:24.3)



Pete Cohen (26:42.124)



Ray Sylvester (26:44.207)

That's a that's why when you see, I don't know, monks, the living, quiet retreat, there's a there's a calmness, a stillness, they can drop their blood pressure by 20 points, just in a few moments, that anchored to their truth. You say, you know, people are living on blood pressure, medication around the world, and they can't change it. And they're changing the diet, they can't do it.


Pete Cohen (26:48.908)



Pete Cohen (27:12.236)



Ray Sylvester (27:12.347)

because we are stuck in the realm of where we are. So that's what I would say. It's very complicated, but I would say that I don't want to turn it into an Indiana Jones and data myself now film where we're trying to find this lost aspect, but it comes from stillness and attachments of things that we notice we experienced for our five senses, which is why meditation stillness, you're blocking out the environment.


Pete Cohen (27:15.726)

of where.


Ray Sylvester (27:41.531)

praying, you're blocking out the environment. Wim Hof, you're blocking out the environment. So when you start to withstand the noise, those arrows you spoke about before Pete, when you can get to a point where all the arrows are coming in, but they hit this invisible force field, they can't get in, they can't get close to you. Because you've detached because attachment, the opposite of attachment is detachment. So to find self,


Pete Cohen (27:59.662)

Yeah, because you know who you...


Pete Cohen (28:07.47)



Ray Sylvester (28:09.147)

You have to detach yourself from the things that we so easily attach ourselves to.


Pete Cohen (28:14.574)

Yeah. Well, I've really enjoyed this season. And I wrote this down this morning about when you ask yourself the question, who am I, it's not meant to get an answer. It dissolves the question. Like, who am I?


It's a way actually, I think, of becoming very present.


Ray Sylvester (28:41.115)

100%, 100%, it is just about presence.


Staying in the moment. You're not using an accruement of things over time. You're not using status, money, things, even relationships you're not using to define you. They compliment you. And then you're not star gazing too much in the future. You just exist. You just are. But for many people listening to this, it may sound strange, but to find that point where everything slows down and you see things in a new way.


Pete Cohen (28:46.606)



Pete Cohen (28:53.07)



Ray Sylvester (29:15.867)

which is people we've talked about this before, people that have had near death experiences, they start to appreciate the rustle of the trees in the wind, the color of the grass, the sky. There's a whole new sensory field that comes up because there's something that goes beyond the numbing. Because think about this as a child, if we're attached to our five senses, we get used to things, we get used to the wind in our face. But if you've been bedridden for six months,


Pete Cohen (29:23.918)



Ray Sylvester (29:45.979)

and you get out and you see people in care, they might get out in a wheelchair, they wrap them up in a blanket, they don't care about the chill, they want the chill, they want something, they want to know they're alive and they're connected and they get a new sense. So I completely agree with you, Pete.


Pete Cohen (29:57.326)

feel alive.


Pete Cohen (30:05.422)

Well, I want to thank everyone who, if this is the first one, or maybe you've listened to all of them, it must be close to, I don't know, seven, eight, nine hours of content. And I watched a series on Sky here called True Detectives, and I watched the first series. I don't think I'm going to watch anymore. I mean, it was good, but that's like 10 hours of time. And I love Woody Harrison, and I love Matthew McGonaghy. Matthew McGonaghy, I think, is just...


But I wouldn't do what he did. I mean, he must have smoked well over a hundred cigarettes in that. That's not a part that I wouldn't choose to do that. That's his choice, who he decided to play, to be that actor. And I think who we are is a choice. And it's a choice I would love to explore more. I want to thank everyone who's listened, whether it's the first one, you've listened to all of them, whether you've come on this journey with us, reach out to us and tell us, what have you taken?


from the time that you've spent on the walks that Ray and I have done together. We're gonna be in Los Angeles together in, I don't know, in just over a week's time, oh no, a week and a half. So I just wanna thank you, Ray, and I'm looking forward to another season of podcasts.


Ray Sylvester (31:24.507)

Absolutely, looking forward to it.


Pete Cohen (31:27.598)

So for now, we're gonna say goodbye. Thank you so much.


Ray Sylvester (31:32.635)

Take care, bye for now.



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