Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Where are you and where are you going?
Smashter
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Smashter » Sun Apr 14, 2019 8:08 pm

Dang, that was so well said.

I remember a while back you saying something akin to 'some people, such as myself, are not meant for fatherhood.'

As you go through this transformation, do you still have those feelings?

classical_Liberal
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by classical_Liberal » Sun Apr 14, 2019 9:33 pm

Excellent thoughts!

There will be times in the river of life where this contentment you describe becomes very self evident. A person will be happy... except for a few minor things. Our thought processes will begin to focus on those things, and we will be tempted to make changes to fulfill our magical thought of perfection. WRONG! When relatively content do not make any radical changes. Rather live those times for what they are, a great period of life. Otherwise we risk throwing off this amazing balance that decisions and circumstances has to provided us. Sit back and enjoy, smell the flowers if you will, and realize it is probably temporary. I've made this mistake several times and shortened what would have been natural, longer term periods of contentment. IMO, the time for great internal or external attempts at change is when life is at it's most disquieting. These times will come on their own, there is no need to create them.

suomalainen
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by suomalainen » Mon Apr 15, 2019 4:43 pm

@smashter yes, but perhaps I might suggest that I am a bit more empathetic to myself than I have been previously. My struggles with fatherhood were more ... disconcerting before, as I felt like I "shouldn't" be feeling the way I was feeling. But now, when I struggle with it, I can take a step back and say, "gee, S, looks like you're really having a hard time with this. That's ok. Feel the difficulty fully for a few minutes and then it's ok to let it go." More generally, the sense that I'm "not meant for fatherhood" is about my feelings about my feelings rather than my feelings about my actual performance. I try. I don't always do it well, but I try, so, by some measure, that means I'm a good dad (or as good as is possible for me). And anyway, I wouldn't want my kids to not have things to discuss with their shrinks. Don't want them to be the one weird kid that DIDN'T come from a dysfunctional family.

@cL yes absolutely agreed that premature agitation shortens the joy of life much like another premature -tion, but I think it's not only about smelling the roses when you have them. It's also tempering one's expectations when one is searching for roses (whether smartly leaving from a current shit-pit or prematurely agitating for leaving a current rose-field). It seems humans NEED to actually live certain experiences in order to learn the related lessons; some things just can't be learned vicariously, or at least it doesn't stick. To paraphrase a nifty line I read once, of far more profit is a hard-earned lesson than a spoon-fed lesson - the impression on the mind lasts longer. As a result, Eliot's explorations should be seen as a normal, necessary part of life (and not as immature folly), but I think it would be wise for a person (especially a young person) to intellectually know as they embark and to keep in the back of their minds that at the end of their explorations, they will most likely end up very near to where they started - just older and a little bit wiser. Such is the path of a human life.

suomalainen
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Musings

Post by suomalainen » Mon Apr 22, 2019 8:19 pm

Two things:

1) I was pointed to this https://fivebooks.com/best-books/wilderness-mark-boyle/ and there are a few things that intrigued me (a guy / author(?) living "simply" in rural Ireland) is interviewed and at the end says this:
Finally: are you happier living as you do now? Do you feel that, by living as wildly as you can, you have escaped the stresses of modern life?

Each way of life brings with it its own beauty and challenge. Most of the time, yes, I am happier, and I have mostly circumvented the stresses of modern life. That said, I’ve acquired a couple of the struggles of ancient life. But I think contentment is something healthier to aim for than happiness.

The difference is subtle. Happiness is always something to be sought, something you can have a little bit more of, whereas contentment is happy just being itself. I’ve found that you can be content even amidst struggles and sadness. Contentment enjoys the moment and the feelings for what they are. Contentment doesn’t need anything more, or for things to be perfect. And I have found contentment, more or less.
I haven't read his (Mark Boyle) book "The Way Home" so if anyone has, any feedback would be appreciated. Worth reading? There's also a reference to a doomsday book called "The Uninhabitable Earth, Life After Warming" by David Wallace-Wells. Anyone read that?

2) I can get anxious over the future - will my savings last, will my health last, will global warming or war or civil unrest or anything screw everything up, will my kids be able to find work and live contented lives, etc. Combining this thought with some of my recent readings, I realized that my anxiety is a pure fiction. What am I anxious about? An imagined future state. I am literally imagining myself anxious. I am literally scared of nothing but my own mental state. What is the solution? Other than to just "stop thinking about imagined possible terrible future states", if I feel like I need to "do something", what is the thing that I can control, the thing that I can do, the thing that might be beneficial to me?

It is to develop myriad skills and to trust in those skills to bear me through any hardships. It is the permaculture ERE or whatever it's called (as opposed to a FIRE-style). If I get fired, I can find another job that requires my professional skillset - my current employer is convenient, but not necessary; if I develop carpentry and plumbing and hunting and farming/gardening and other "simple life" skills, I could contentedly live through an apocalypse.* The only stumbling block? Those pesky kids. I just don't have the energy to build all these other skills after working and doing my best to teach the kids basic life/adulting skills.

* Until murdered. But, you know, you gotta go somehow.

bigato
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by bigato » Tue Apr 23, 2019 5:03 am

Suggestion for 2) is stop feeding it with news and social media. Quit completely for three months or so.

daylen
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by daylen » Tue Apr 23, 2019 5:32 am

2. Think about how much fun an apocalypse would be. I am a firm believer in seeing a bright and dark side to everything. Seriously, does it really matter what happens? Yes and no, but either way, you are still just a self-aware, decaying system that lives in a chaotic soup of illusions and delusions.

Jason
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Re: Musings

Post by Jason » Tue Apr 23, 2019 7:02 am

suomalainen wrote:
Mon Apr 22, 2019 8:19 pm
I realized that my anxiety is a pure fiction.
"I've lived through some terrible things in my life, some of which actually happened."

Mark Twain

jacob
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Re: Musings

Post by jacob » Tue Apr 23, 2019 9:00 am

suomalainen wrote:
Mon Apr 22, 2019 8:19 pm
There's also a reference to a doomsday book called "The Uninhabitable Earth, Life After Warming" by David Wallace-Wells. Anyone read that?
I've read it (of course). It's the book-length version of http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/02/ ... wells.html dealing with the physical impacts between 2020-2100 and how we'll feel about it. In connection with the book launch DW-W has also written a bunch of other [long] articles that gives you a good idea of what it contains.

The book is divided into two parts. Part one are the impacts and a discussion of the scale of the problem. The gloves are off (for once) and there's practically none of that hopey "if only we act now stuff". If you already belong to the 1% who is aware of the predicament, the second part is much more interesting as it deals with the psychological and social impacts on individuals and people in general as there are few books talking about that.

In terms of anxiety, etc. when humans are faced with something that is overwhelming and basically out of their control (like a great dragon), most humans tend to respond by ignoring it and learning to live with it. For example, during the cold war humans continued to human and create more humans even though it was widely believed that there was a material chance that the bomb could drop at any time. This experience is as far as I can tell the best we actually have to provide some understanding, but it's different in the sense that a nuclear war will either happen or it will not and so this experience only shows us what is is like to live with existential risk. OTOH, climate change will almost surely happen (insert obligatory unless we act now :roll: ) and things will unfold is a fairly predictable matter as described in part 1 just getting worse and worse. So climate change is not about risk but a down-slope certainty that will bite more and more people in the ass. The ass-biting will of course not be distributed equally. For example, a material global crop failure will kill those who are already malnourished (if not directly, then by epidemics), people who already spend half their monies on food will likely riot, revolt, or go to war (as they've done before) if food prices double depending on what they can or can't afford... and if you're at the richest end, you might just experience it as an involuntary but welcome diet(+). Over time, climate change will inexorably move people down the distribution. Those at the bottom die. Those at the top who initially suffered through a diet will ... vote for a populist promising dependable access to food (much like we've seen it with energy). And so on. Food is just an example of one of the many climate vectors.

(+) In the US the Great Recession actually reduced BMI slightly due people eating out less. As a result the frequency of cancer casualties actually dropped a bit. Thanks Great Recession!

As for whether to pay attention or stick your head in the sand for greater happiness. Literature like this is sometimes referred to as doom porn for those in the business. There is (I will personally admit to this affliction) a certain fascination with these things. I think perhaps my way of dealing with adversity is that I (perhaps irrationally) believe that if I know about what's coming, I can deal with it a little bit better than if I don't know. However, I've only noticed this pattern in 1% (maybe 5%?) of people. 95% don't really care about things that are either "very big" or "very far away" or "in the future". I think they go through life gradually adjusting their expectations and dealing with issues on a far more tactical level than I do. For example, in 2080, it'll just be the new normal that grandpa died at age 65 of heat exhaustion because the grid was down. And the only one upset about the cause of death is grandma who remember a time when old people generally didn't die from that and so knows that this death was unnecessary. Younger humans will think that geezers and babies occasionally succumbing to heat (or weather) is just as normal as dying from the flu is today.

To put some perspective on it, some of the most bitter, cynically amused, or weary people in the "doom" business are those who have worked on it the longest and are therefore some of the oldest. I think it is because they perceive a much greater loss in terms of what could have been (if we only had acted then) and what we get now (because we didn't act then). Whereas for younger people (like me, only 15+ years of awareness), the gap between reality and expectations is not as great yet (so not as weary or bitter yet ... I think the cynically amused attitude comes first. Incidentally this turns one into a very attractive person that most people want to hang out with---are you taking notes THF? J/K). This certainly suggests swallowing the blue pill and waking up tomorrow with one's faith in techno-optimism restored. OTOH, I think the eventual result of the ostrich-strategy is the kind of bitter (dog in the manger) resentfulness that now drives the politics in rural America, except that this one will not be city vs countryside but "rich vs poor" and "young vs old"(*). Basically, you're losing and you know you're losing, but actually knowing (German kennen, Scottish ken, Danish kende, US/Heinlein grok) why causes too much cognitive dissonance and so you'd rather do something primitive and tear down something/someone else, especially those conceited (older and richer than average) a**-holes who seemingly did things right. Look out medicare and pension plans.

(*) Some of this is starting now with the school strikes for climate change and the various extinction rebellions. This is also a discussion/accusation I think parents and grandparents will be increasingly having with their children and grandchildren.

Jason
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Re: Musings

Post by Jason » Tue Apr 23, 2019 9:33 am

jacob wrote:
Tue Apr 23, 2019 9:00 am
For example, in 2080, it'll just be the new normal that grandpa died at age 65 of heat exhaustion because the grid was down.
Hopefully this blog will have survived so Suo's grandkids can know what he was like.

7Wannabe5
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Tue Apr 23, 2019 6:10 pm

jacob wrote:(*) Some of this is starting now with the school strikes for climate change and the various extinction rebellions. This is also a discussion/accusation I think parents and grandparents will be increasingly having with their children and grandchildren.
I don't foresee this happening. Reason being that offspring either are still financially dependent on their parents OR they are fully adult and worrying more about the ramifications of their own actions. IOW, given that my grandchildren are still residents of relatively very affluent region of the world when they are adults, they will more likely feel guilty or defensive about their own stake or stance rather than resentful towards their own affluent elders, even if their elders were relatively more affluent than they are as adults, because contrast between their current situation and that of others in less affluent regions will be much more stark. In fact, much more likely that anybody still in anything resembling a decent situation will thank their ancestors for foresight. I'm not saying this is how it should be. I'm just noting that this is how humans usually behave.

suomalainen
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An Honest Meditation

Post by suomalainen » Tue May 14, 2019 1:33 pm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92i5m3tV5XY

As a bit of an update - life's been its usual series of ups and downs in the past month or so since I last posted, but it's been manageable. I thought of writing a brief paragraph of what I've learned so that maybe it's helpful for others similarly situated or of similar constitution:

If you're feeling stressed or tense or depressed or anxious or any other emotion or of being in a "phase" or "state" with similarly distressing or negative connotations, please consider asking for help. Perhaps you need medical assistance (i.e., medication) or perhaps some therapy would be of help. If therapy is an option, let me offer a preview of what it's for: to the extent your distressing emotion or phase or state is not the result of a condition that can be successfully treated with medication or other external intervention, consider the possibility that your distressing emotion or phase or state is the result of a pattern. It could be a thought pattern or a physiological pattern or a behavioral pattern, in each case in reaction to some trigger or stimulus. It developed at some point in your past and, through repetition, has become your default way of doing or being or speaking or seeing things. Therapy, when all is said and done, is about seeing this pattern through another's eyes. Once you see the distressing pattern and you see that it isn't "the way things are" but a thing that was created by you, you begin to see that it is a thing that you can change. You can choose to deliberately replace each on-ramp to the distressing pattern with a different, deliberately chosen thought or action. Do this enough, and you will develop new on-ramps to new, healthier patterns. Just keep working on it, deliberately.

End PSA.

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Lemur
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Re: An Honest Meditation

Post by Lemur » Tue May 14, 2019 1:47 pm

suomalainen wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 1:33 pm
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92i5m3tV5XY

As a bit of an update - life's been its usual series of ups and downs in the past month or so since I last posted, but it's been manageable. I thought of writing a brief paragraph of what I've learned so that maybe it's helpful for others similarly situated or of similar constitution:

If you're feeling stressed or tense or depressed or anxious or any other emotion or of being in a "phase" or "state" with similarly distressing or negative connotations, please consider asking for help. Perhaps you need medical assistance (i.e., medication) or perhaps some therapy would be of help. If therapy is an option, let me offer a preview of what it's for: to the extent your distressing emotion or phase or state is not the result of a condition that can be successfully treated with medication or other external intervention, consider the possibility that your distressing emotion or phase or state is the result of a pattern. It could be a thought pattern or a physiological pattern or a behavioral pattern, in each case in reaction to some trigger or stimulus. It developed at some point in your past and, through repetition, has become your default way of doing or being or speaking or seeing things. Therapy, when all is said and done, is about seeing this pattern through another's eyes. Once you see the distressing pattern and you see that it isn't "the way things are" but a thing that was created by you, you begin to see that it is a thing that you can change. You can choose to deliberately replace each on-ramp to the distressing pattern with a different, deliberately chosen thought or action. Do this enough, and you will develop new on-ramps to new, healthier patterns. Just keep working on it, deliberately.

End PSA.
Yes, totally agree: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locus_of_control
I had a similar epiphany from my own psychological issues I had around last year.

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jennypenny
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by jennypenny » Tue May 14, 2019 2:15 pm

If you get the chance, read The Power of Agency. It's an easy read (an airplane read, if you know what I mean) yet it points out some ways to feel like you've got hold of the reins again.

Art of Manliness did a podcast with one of the authors recently if you want a preview (I know podcasts aren't your thing, but if you want the cliff notes for the book ... ).

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jennypenny
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by jennypenny » Tue May 14, 2019 5:07 pm

DS says to listen to the podcast and skip the book. "The podcast tells you pretty much everything you need to know. The book says the same stuff, only takes too long." :lol:

suomalainen
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Secret

Post by suomalainen » Sat May 18, 2019 11:52 pm

Pssst. In the spirit of www.postsecret.com, I have a secret to share with you that I haven't shared with anyone: [looks around nervously]

I am happy.

It's been a combination of removing the things that make me unhappy, adding a sprinkling (and only a sprinkling) of the things that surprise me and make me smile, and going outside every day. As to this last point, on a lunch run during work one day recently, I suddenly realized...it didn't matter what I was doing - retired or working, rich or poor, so long as I wasn't dead or in the hospital, I'd be going for a 30-45 minute run at that time of day. In that moment, I - a working stiff, was doing EXACTLY what I wanted to do. And I couldn't have been doing anything more or different or better. I can't run 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. I can happily work for my daily bread, so long as it doesn't make me unhappy, and so long as it gives me time and money to do things I love with (and without) the people I love.

And somehow, this song strikes a chord with me, and captures the meaning and purpose of life: sitting with loved ones drinking white wine in the sun.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCNvZqpa-7Q

classical_Liberal
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by classical_Liberal » Sun May 19, 2019 7:14 pm

Song choice aside :D , I'm very happy you have found so much peace in your life.

suomalainen
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Update

Post by suomalainen » Sun Jun 02, 2019 9:34 pm

So, I thought I'd provide a bit of an update on our arrangement. If you'll recall, mid-to-late last year we had a few fights about money and other things*, and I got tired of fighting, so I devised a new strategy to deal with it. Wife has a $5,000/month budget to handle everything from utilities and groceries to movies and travel (which is supplemented by $4000/year for a "big family trip", which comes from the $20k we'd saved to go to New Zealand but decided against blowing on one trip). I cover medical, taxes, my own travel, alcohol and additional saving (401k, bonuses, etc are already saved, so this would be from raises and such).

* Things have really calmed down for me. I fear this journal is a bit dry now. Sorry.

We started this arrangement in September of last year on a trial basis but didn't "get serious" until January 1. So now it's been 5 months...and...drumroll...she's averaged $4,975/month, with a range from $3,200 to $7,600. Better than the mathematical victory is the fact that we are both happy with the arrangement. It's enough for her to feel like she can do what she wants to do with the kids and the house without my nitpicking or second-guessing each line item, but it's overall capped for me in a way that's in line with how we lived for years, so the concern regarding lifestyle inflation out of my control is alleviated.

Outside of that budget, on my end, I've been spending like crazy! As you may have surmised, I finally came to the conclusion that I will have to work until I'm 49 (or maybe 53) regardless of my savings rate (taking into account my unchangeable familial situation), and therefore becoming FI was a solution searching for a problem. I ditched the FI-solution and have been working on my actual problems (parenting, burnout, existential crises). One of my problems is to try to enjoy my life and money and, given that my friends and family are spread across the country, I've been traveling to see friends and family more. That gets expensive (and I try not to think about each of my contributions to the coming carbon apocalypse). I also plopped down an embarrassing amount of money on a taste of "the lifestyles of the rich and famous" (renting a slope-side condo for a few weekends next winter). I've never done it (my dad was too frugal to ever do that), and I was curious, so...the itch shall be scratched.

Finally, I will note that psychologically I've come a long way and I do finally feel somewhat at peace. As I wrote a few weeks ago, I experienced the oddest sensation for a few days...I was happy. That feeling has ebbed of course, but I think it's fair to say that I've been "not unhappy" consistently for a while now. One of the things that I've learned in this period of not-unhappiness is this: I used to think of a thing I'd like to do, like say, build a picnic table. Then I'd get in picnic-table-building-mode and I'd plan and I'd buy materials and I'd make the cuts and I'd assemble and I'd sand and I'd be done. And I would be ALL IN on the project until it was accomplished. It made the fun thing I wanted to do into a series of tasks that needed to be accomplished. So I'd be all focused and I'd be all serious and, frankly, I wasn't having any fun. Same with running - it was "I'll run this many miles this many times a week and then I'll increase by 0.5 miles the following week and then..." I turned every fun thing into a fucking chore. So what I've been trying to do now instead is - decide on a process and focus on that rather than decide on a goal and then achieve it as quickly and efficiently as possible. For example, my goal is to now get outside and run (or walk) every work day. My mileage has naturally and easily increased without my even trying or focusing on it! I enjoy my runs much more when I'm not focused on my performance (like I was gonna win anything anyway). Another example is that I'm now working on an adirondack chair for my backyard. (I did in fact build a picnic table in one day in the manner noted above (sanded on day 2) a couple of weeks ago). For this chair, I'm just working on it as I feel like it, let it be finished when it gets finished. I enjoy this method much, much more than the "focus on a goal" method.

Anyway, that's me for now. I haven't been very active here either. I totally get and support those for whom FI is a good solution to one of their problems, but that's just not me now and so reading about it constantly has not been as useful or interesting. Besides, FI is a good solution to only one problem, but it has nothing to say at all for many other problems, the most glaring of which is - what the fuck am I gonna do all day now? THAT is an interesting problem and I do enjoy reading about that. I hope to continue following along with those who are designing their lives, even if I'm not commenting as much as I have in the past. Good luck to everyone in achieving their dreams.

Oh, and one more thing - regarding that whole existential crisis thing? Whether there's a god or not, I don't know. Whether life has a grander "meaning" or not, I don't know. Whether there's life after death (and what it might consist of), I don't know. But there was a guy interviewed on a popular show and he was asked "what happens after we die?" and he said the most surprisingly wise thing: "Well, I know that those who love us will miss us." And that's why I'm spending more of my money visiting with friends and family - sharing a laugh or a glass of white wine in the sun or some other experience is really all we have. So what if it's all erased when we're dead? It matters to me, here, and now; it matters to them, here, and now. It might be like computer RAM that's erased as soon as the power goes off...but without the RAM, the computer would be a worthless paper weight.

EdithKeeler
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by EdithKeeler » Mon Jun 03, 2019 6:46 am

Great post! I’m glad for you, all the way around!

Clarice
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by Clarice » Mon Jun 03, 2019 11:55 am

Thank you very much for sharing - very enlightening. I can relate to many aspects of your journey - not ready to summarize it in my own journal entry. Have you read Passionate Marriage? The name does not do justice to this great book. This is NOT a book about relationships. It is about your OWN journey while laboring under the condition of being married (in any type of committed relationships). It definitely corresponds to Kagan levels 4-5. I believe it will bring you a new level of peace:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/03933 ... UTF8&psc=1

fingeek
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Re: Suomalaisen Päiväkirja

Post by fingeek » Wed Jun 05, 2019 2:20 pm

the fuck am I gonna do all day now
Yes, very much this. I've taken the year off on parental leave (boring details in my journal), and it's only after 4 months of getting out of the burnout/anxiety/stress drop of not working I'm finally hitting this question. Prior to which I was (still am) too screwed up to realise.

I'm starting to realise exactly like you - What I'm (we're) doing completely and utterly wrong is turning everything into a task and defining success by its completion. Slowly but surely I'm starting to do things while remaining mindful and not rushing to the end. It started with brushing my teeth.

A pertinent quote comes to mind:
“This is the real secret to life—to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realise it is play.”
-Alan Watts

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