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Man Alive: Tap Into a More Powerful Masculinity with Ilan Ferdman

Shana:

I’m excited to be covering the masculine through a different lens than the way it’s been covered before. And I can admit, in this moment, there’s this tiny little bit of nervousness inside me. It’s saying: “is this going to be going too far for men?” Is it going to be something that, once I say what we’re going to talk about, men who read this are going to be like: “Oh, interesting.”

So, I don’t know when you might be reading this. There’s not a lot of people writing in and telling me what their experience is. Feel free to do that after you read this one.

And now I’ll give you the headline of what we’re going to talk about.

We’re going to talk about ‘The Divine Masculine and the Healthy Masculine, and in a way, being able to integrate all of yourself into one form. In our culture, a lot gets left out and left behind, especially for men.

And there’s this idea of; I have to be the rock, I have to be the strong one. How can the true self shine and come to fruition with what Ilan Ferdman and I would call ‘the divine masculine? Especially in romantic, loving relationships? How can that show up in the other areas of your life?

Ilan Ferdman, thank you for being an old soul and someone who’s on a path of growth and discovery. We’re going to discuss the divine masculine, and maybe we could break it down a little bit for men who aren’t familiar with that term. It’s a bit unpalatable or weird. What is it from your perspective?

Ilan Ferdman:

I’ll give you my perspective because I’m sure you can ask a hundred different people, and they’ll give you a hundred different ways that they perceive it. For me, what I’ve learned is that the divine masculine is the ability to hold both the masculine and the feminine in balance internally. It looks very different than what I thought it would be, because when someone first told me to experience the feminine, I was like, “no, thank you.” But there are two sides of every coin, right? The masculine side of us is the creator, is the doer. It’s the part that just makes things happen. And again, this is separate from gender. There’s plenty of women who are very –

Shana:

Embody lots of masculine energy attributes.

Ilan Ferdman:

That’s it! You look at all these powerhouse women in the workforce. They’ve had to embody masculinity. There’s also the distorted masculine, the healthy masculine, the distorted feminine, but I will leave that aside for now. So, we can think of masculinity as the creator energy. Feminine is the allowing energy. It’s the receiving energy. And for most of us men growing up, we are traditionally raised in environments where to succeed, win, or receive love and acceptance – we have to win. To qualify for those things. We have to “make it happen.” And so, from a very early age, we’re programmed like that. And that’s true from most humans, I think, today.

Shana:

The masculine is a very dominant way of being in our culture, for better or for worse.

Ilan Ferdman:

Yes. There’s a lot of like; I will fight to make it happen, I will meddle, I will manipulate, I will do anything to get to that place, right? A very singularly targeted result. The feminine is a lot more, I can sit, and I can relax, allowing my intuition to work and insights to happen.

Shana:

Right, I can receive.

Ilan Ferdman:

There’s an open-hearted awareness that comes with the feminine. Now, when you start to marry the two, what I’ve noticed in my experiences, when you run around trying to produce results at all times, you’re just one of those horses with the blinders on.

You will produce results. I’m not taking anything away from that, you absolutely will. And most of the people that are reading probably have produced amazing results in their lives.

And what I learned is that while I can produce results that way, it is not the only way to produce results.

Shana:

Right. It’s not the only way. It’s also not the most pleasurable way, and it’s not the most sustainable way.

Ilan Ferdman:

Correct. That’s the thing. It’s been this process of having to relearn and reawaken this other aspect of us. Because we’re born having both of these aspects, men, and women. But then, as we go through life, we start to dominate with one because this is the one that produces results. This is the one that gets you love, acceptance, awards, money, accolades, whatever it is, right? And so, slowly, this other one just atrophies and goes “bye-bye.”

It wasn’t until my first Ayahuasca experience, because Ayahuasca is a very –

Shana:

Typically, feminine, feminine spirit.

Ilan Ferdman:

Feminine spirit, and I remember feeling it. I was like, “Oh my God, this is so new, this is so different.” And after having that experience, it became a mission of mine to reawaken this dormant aspect of me. And when the two marry, what I’ve found is, instead of running around and just producing this and having to do that and dah, dah, dah, dah, you start to step back. And instead of going forward and manipulating your world and environment all the time –

Shana:

Or trying to force it.

Ilan Ferdman:

You stop meddling, and you allow this time to provide you with insights and information. And it somehow starts to come from this deeper place of who you are, and then you act on that. Now I only act on inspired action. Anything that the mind tells me, like, you got to go do this, and you got to go do that, and you’ve got to go do this, I’m like, cool –

Shana:

But you wait.

Ilan Ferdman:

And I’m just going to sit, and I wait.

Shana:

It sounds like that has a little more of a tense or frantic, or it still might be what someone else might call inspired. Like, oh, I feel passionate about this, but there’s a different quality.

Ilan Ferdman:

Yes. And if I can say it this way, hopefully, people will understand that what the mind wants is simply a form of trying to make your outside world make your inside world feel okay. So basically, something happens inside that does not feel comfortable. It might be sadness, it might be grief, it might be anger, it might be frustration, and the mind looks down at this and goes, this is not okay, fix this! And then you start running around doing all of these things to try to make this thing inside be “OK.” And you do it, and it doesn’t make it “OK”. It just numbs it or distracts you from it for some time.

And then the thing reawakens again, and again, and again, and you keep chasing something. You keep chasing success. You keep chasing love, you keep chasing the perfect body, or whatever the thing that’s uncomfortable inside –

Shana:

Tells you: “Oh, if I just have this, I will feel better.”

Ilan Ferdman:

That’s it. And I think people reading this know that they have played that game so long-

Shana:

You don’t even recognize it’s a game. It just seems like that’s what life is.

Ilan Ferdman:

Yeah, but I think we’ve all done that long enough where you know it’s not healthy.

I don’t know where your readers are at, at what age of their life, but when people say midlife crisis, I just think it’s a soul-reawakening moment. The soul, for decades, has been saying: “you shouldn’t do this. This is killing you”. And then –

Shana:

And then it starts getting louder, and louder, and louder.

Ilan Ferdman:

That’s it. And then eventually you’re like, I can’t keep doing this.

Shana:

Yes. One thought I had is this: If we didn’t call it masculine and feminine, there wouldn’t be such resistance, right? It would just be like: There are these more receptive and more penetrative or generative parts of me. There’s a whole world of humanity. I’m curious, as you’ve made the shift to integrate, what’s different for you?

What is life like now? Can you give me a sense of what happens? Because I think it’s really hard to conceive of this in some ways. “I can’t take the time to wait and relax because things are going to fall apart.” Those fears show up.

Ilan Ferdman:

In the beginning, it is very clunky. This is not a snap of your finger, and, oh, we’re coherent. It’s not, because this part of you that has produced results the way you’ve produced results is effective. I mean, it’s a superhighway to get to this place.

This other thing comes online, and the way I describe it, it’s like a donkey ride of one of like mountains roads –

Shana:

I was thinking of Santa Renia and Greece. I took a donkey up the side of the mountain.

Ilan Ferdman:

Exactly. with crap everywhere, and the trip is so slow –

Shana:

You’re terrified you’re going to fall off to your death!

Ilan Ferdman:

Yeah. And the mind keeps looking, and it’s like, “What are you doing? Why are we wasting our time? We could have been there already!” So, in the beginning, it’s very clunky. However, having gone through that process, this is what I’ve noticed. There is a level of peace and effortlessness that starts to take hold of your life.

Where it’s really scary to let go of the steering wheel and trust that life is going to take you to where you need to be.

Shana:

There will be somewhere to step on.

Ilan Ferdman:

You go, no, no, no, we’re not supposed to be there, and you turn the steering wheel, but every time you turn the steering wheel, life has a funny way of always bringing us back. Sometimes cute, sometimes violent, but somehow it has this ability to redirect. I’ve noticed recently that I work way less than I ever have before, I make more money than I ever have before, my relationship is better than ever before.

Shana:

And what’s your sense of how that happens? What’s the equation there?

Ilan Ferdman:

When the doer part of us is active all the time, the receiver part of us can’t be active.

So one of my coaches said, “You have to stop to make money.”

And I remember she said that to me, and I was like, “What the fuck do you mean?” You have to stop to make money. Meaning, if you’re running full speed ahead all the time, something’s trying to catch up to you, but you’re there now, you’re there now, it doesn’t even have time to catch up. So what I found is, as I’ve done more of these practices (Ayuasca?), these ideas and insights, and opportunities just show up.

Shana:

They come to you.

Ilan Ferdman:

They do. Instead of acting on 10 things that my mind told me we should do.

This, or this, and this, and this. Now I just wait. And it’s like, do this, and I do this, and the results are a hundred times of what doing those 10 things are. People say 20% of the things you do will create 80% of the results. Yeah, if you’re working from the mind, but if you’re working from this balance, like you do one thing, and it creates a 1000% of the results.

Shana:

My sense of it is that 20% comes from the deeper place. So, we’re doing 80% of this frantic “doing,” and then that 20% is actually more “in the zone,” as some people would call it. Or in that divine guided place. So once you put your energy there into that 20%, I mean, wow!

Ilan Ferdman:

Yeah. And I just want to say one little caveat because some people might be listening to this and going like, “then your life is all perfect?” No. Listen. I’m married. I’m going to celebrate 13 years of marriage. I have two kids, nine and a half and eight. I’m having a life experience.

Shana:

So it’s not all rainbows and butterflies?

Ilan Ferdman:

No. That’s the thing that I think is really important to understand.

Shana:

No, I feel really grateful that you’re saying that.

Ilan Ferdman:

And here’s the beauty. You get to this place with so much trust and acceptance for everything that shows up in your life. And the reason we fight or are tired, or all that, because we resist the thing that is arising.

Shana:

Here, right now.

 

Ilan Ferdman:

Right here, right now. It’s like, “she shouldn’t be doing this,” or “he shouldn’t be doing that,” or “my kids shouldn’t be doing this,” or “I should have that.” Every piece of that argument with reality is what’s actually keeping that reality in place. Energy has a flow to it. Nothing is forever. It doesn’t rain forever. It doesn’t snow forever.

Shana:

You don’t feel sad forever.

Ilan Ferdman:

You’re not angry forever, right? Everything wants to flow. When it’s flowing, and then you hold it, and you go, “I shouldn’t feel this.” Now you’ve locked that in. Being in this place-

Shana:

Right, and it stays stuck there.

Ilan Ferdman:

That’s it.

Shana:

Then you’re kind of floating in that gray, heavy, intense fog.

Ilan Ferdman:

Exactly. And then real simply, what happens? This stuff is trying to exit. I said this the other day on a call, everything you want is already coming to you. It’s this conduit that brings all this stuff to you. But it’s blocked by all of these things stuffed inside that you’re in an argument with. And as we begin to remove these things, and there are energetic processes going on. We take people through meditations and experientially, not just having to understand. Still, experientially releasing these things, all of this stuff that you have worked so hard to receive is already right in front of you. But you move this stuff, and it just starts to flow in. So, I just find that now, it’s just not always rainbows and butterflies, and what shows up, I know, is here happening for me.

Shana:

To support you for your growth. Right. It’s really different when you have a fight, or you have a conflict, to hold it and go: “oh, what is this showing me? How is this an opportunity for my growth?” Or hold it and use it to be in greater service to the world. Versus, “Oh shit, this sucks! I hate it. I need to fix this or get over it.” Can you give us a concrete example of your romantic relationship with your wife? What does this look like now versus what it might’ve looked like before?

Ilan Ferdman:

That’s such a good question. Right as you said that I had this vision. I’m going to share with you a story that I don’t really share that much anymore. And I feel like it was one of those pivotal moments where I learned this valuable lesson. So when I was 30, back in 2004, I started a business. We were in commercial real estate, and I went from a commission job to becoming the VP. We grew the company from half a million dollars to over a hundred million dollars in that time. Then in 2010, I lost everything.

I mean everything. Because I just kept reinvesting in the company to try to make it float, again, I can’t let this go, that whole resistance thing.

So, life savings funneled back into the company, “we will just survive another year”.

I had millions of dollars in investments, that if we just made it through all that, we’ll be good, the mind kept telling me. And I got to a point where I wasn’t bringing in any money, and I was hemorrhaging money, and we had a mortgage to pay and all this stuff. And I was like, “I have a choice, I can either pay our mortgage or put food on our table, but I can’t do both.” And so I chose not to pay the mortgage, thinking that it’ll be okay in a month, and we’ll bounce back. Now, that’s okay on its own. The bad part is I didn’t tell my wife. I didn’t consult her. I didn’t ask her because I had shame and guilt around the fact that I’m supposed to be the provider. I’m the rock. I’m the man.

Men back in the day, we used to go out, hunt, that was the thing. Today it’s money, right? We’re hunting money as this support structure. So now, the fact of admitting to my wife that I can’t do that anymore, meanwhile, she’s pregnant with our first child, was like, I can’t do it. So now month turns into two, turns into three, turns into four, and we’re eventually at a point where I don’t see an end in sight, and we’re digging the hole deeper and deeper and deeper. On top of all that is the shame and guilt around having lied to my wife! So I’m like, I just can’t now. So the universe delivered something. I call it a gift wrap kick in the nuts. A man rings our doorbell at 9:30 at night, and my wife’s grandparents happened to be there with us. And so I walked up to the door, and I opened it, “Are you Ilan Ferdman?”

And for whatever reason, stupidly, I said “yes”. And he goes, “You’ve been served.”

Now, my wife is standing right behind me, and her grandparents are standing right behind her, so I closed the door, and I know that at some point, I have to turn around to face them and explain who the hell rang the doorbell at nine o’clock at night!

I pulled my wife into a side room, and at this point, I hadn’t paid the mortgage for probably a year, and they served us with foreclosure papers, and it was at this moment that I had to tell my wife what I did. And I’m thinking, “that’s it, this is the end of our relationship, I’m never going to get to see my son, she’s never going to forgive me, it’s over.” And the wife, she’s the most amazing woman, and I learned something really important on that specific day. When you say “I do,” basically what you’re saying is, all right, let’s do this thing together. But what I didn’t realize is it took that moment for me to create a partnership with my wife to allow myself to break down and know that I wasn’t the one who had to keep it all together. We got married so we could do this as partners –

Shana:

As a team.

Ilan Ferdman:

And I have support. And aside from the fact that she obviously didn’t like the fact that I lied, it really bothered her that I didn’t come to her.

Shana:

Trust her.

Ilan Ferdman:

Yeah. So I realized that the universe sent me, right, not always rainbows. It has sent me a problem so big that all of my solving skills, performing skills, and achievement skills could not solve this problem. I had to create that partnership in that marriage. And look, I’ll just wrap up the story for you. We’re still living in the same house. After everything settled, we basically ended up not paying a mortgage for something like two and a half years while I didn’t have any money to pay and we were building a business, they re-did my mortgage, eliminated half a million dollars in penalties and principal, gave us a 2% interest rate for 40 years, stuff that I couldn’t even imagine!

Shana:

You would never have imagined that all of that would have been possible. Because you saw the catastrophe, that it’s all falling apart. She’s gone, my kid is gone, the house is gone. Everything’s gone if I open up and tell the truth and get vulnerable.

Ilan Ferdman:

That’s it! And so now it was like, that moment was a big one for me. To be able to be with my wife in that way, super vulnerable and raw, and deal with myself for the part of me that had a story or a delusion that I had to be this way. That it was not okay for me to show up in this ‘weaker’ way. And luckily for me, I was married to an amazing, amazing, still married to an amazing woman, who could allow me to process that and hold me in that place. That was incredible. From there on out, it was a matter of trusting that this was unfolding for us and leading us to whatever was next.

And that’s not to say that you can hold that at all moments, right? I had the roller coaster ride of, “holy shit, we’re going to be homeless, and we have this kid on the way!” I had all of that. And I just kept practicing this process of trusting and releasing and trusting and releasing. And when this all worked out the way it did. And I told friends, they’re like, “That’s impossible, how did that happen?” I was like, “Honestly; I don’t know.” Because there is no formula, there’s no process that I could have come up with to get to that result because I wouldn’t have believed that that result was possible. So I couldn’t have even worked for it.

Shana:

Your mind could not have gotten you there without thinking that it’s a possible outcome.

Ilan Ferdman:

Impossible. It’s unheard of. Like, oh, here we’ll deduct half a million dollars from your mortgage, here’s a 2% interest rate for 40 years, it’s impossible! That’s when I started to play with, “oh my God, there’s this whole other thing at play, when you stop resisting what is”. And I would just go through the process, right? With the bank. They would ask me for documentation. I would send it. Someone new would come. And I just remember when it all ended, we got to notice after trying to work with them for two and a half years. And they were like, “Okay, if you can make this trial payment for the next six months, this will be your mortgage.” And I’m not kidding you, Shana, that was the first month that my brother and I had built our business to a point where I could actually take a salary home. If it would’ve happened a month earlier, I don’t know that we’d have been able to make that happen.

Shana:

And it’s so beautiful. Thank you for sharing that story and how vulnerable it is. And I think it’s one that men share, that sense of, “oh god, if I’m not holding it all together, if I’m not the provider”, then there’s all this shame. As opposed to, okay, “how do I do this as a team, how do I collaborate, how do I welcome all of these gifts, right?” As you said, you can’t always be in the mindset of, this is for my higher good, or this is for my family’s higher good. And at the same time, you are allowing for those deeper places to come in. The more you can witness your mind is creating a tragedy or a catastrophe out of this. And actually, you don’t know what’s going to happen. I can’t foretell the future. So, which way do I want to hold this, right? And depending on which way we hold, it depends on how we act and what actually shows up to meet us.

Ilan Ferdman:

Yeah. Can I share a tool that was super healthy for me as I was going through this?

Shana:

Please, please.

Ilan Ferdman:

So, I’m coming down to work, and in the back of my mind is the most creative Hollywood director ever! And this was the vision I had – I’m not kidding you, I had a vision: They’re going to come to kick us out of the house, and it was my wife and me in a box, us all under a cardboard box in the rain, her holding the baby with the sign that a homeless person would have, like “please help us.” That was the vision in my mind.

This is the future that my mind is dreaming up. “Oh my God, if we don’t get this together, this is what’s going to happen.”

That is a debilitating experience to live inside of because you’re fighting something that has, well, probably never happened. But in the moment, you’re greatly impacted by it. So I created this exercise of what’s the worst-case scenario. So I wrote down my worst-case scenario vision, right?

Shana:

Yes, “we’re living in a box on the street with the new-born baby.”

Ilan Ferdman:

The whole thing. And you can feel it. And it was just sadness, and heaviness, and all of it. And then I was like, okay, remove all the dragons, remove all that stuff, what’s the actual worst-case scenario? And the actual worst-case scenario is, my parents live 12 minutes up the road, we could easily move in with them. They would absolutely welcome us, and we’d hit the pause button, figure stuff out, and eventually get back out there. Once I related to the real worst-case scenario, the next thing I experienced was this feeling of just being able to breathe. Like someone took me out of the very depths of drowning and told me it was all going to be okay.

 

Shana:

We could handle that.

Ilan Ferdman:

Absolutely. There’d even be great things about that. And so, I remember that being so profound for me because it removed a lot of that “I’m going to die” feeling, and then I could just operate.

Shana:

That’s amazing. I really appreciate that. I think about that sometimes, being a divorced mom and having a child who’s nine, when we go on family vacations with my parents, my sister and her family, there’s her, her husband, and three kids, they all stay in whatever their own room together, separate rooms. I’ve been staying in a little, what do you call that, those rooms that connecting rooms, with me and my kid and my parents who are in their seventies. And there are experiences that we have together that we would never have had if I was in some other situation, and that happens again and again. And I really do believe in that mindset, that everything can be turned into a gift or an opportunity. The less grip we have on what this means about me if this were to happen, the freer we become and the more creative we are. And I just love it. It sounds like you and your wife, I’m imagining, have a much more collaborative and honest way of relating now.

Ilan Ferdman:

Yeah. And again, I think two things I will say are the biggest growth opportunities, intimate relationships, and being a parent. Those people can push buttons you didn’t even know you had in ways you didn’t even know could be pushed. A lot of the work I do now is, it’s more in the felt sense. Instead of having to operate from the mind, it’s like, if I was dealing with that situation that I dealt with before, I didn’t have these tools then, but if I was dealing with it now, I would actually bring myself in a comfortable safe space, I would bring myself to that place. I would actually envision this loss of money and not being able to do this and that.

Shana:

You would work with the sensations and the feeling that came up.

Ilan Ferdman:

The feelings I would start to feel inside, what’s arising, right! And if I, even as I talk about it now, I can still see that there’s certain parts that get activated. But so there’s sadness in my heart, you can kind of feel this little pinching in my heart. And there’s this kind of swirl that’s happening in my solar plexus right now that is all about, it’s kind of like the way it’s registering for me, it’s like I’m not good enough, I’m not there for them. What I would do today is, I just have practices where I just allow that part to be seen, and received, and heard, and accepted. The way I envision it or explain it to people, it’s like if your four-year-old son or daughter came to you and they were like, “Dad, I’m the worst. I never get anything right. Nobody likes me.” You wouldn’t be like, “Well, work fucking harder!”

Shana:

Right. Right. Or “shut up, you’re fine, don’t talk like that.”

Ilan Ferdman:

Exactly. You just wouldn’t. I mean, maybe some parents would. I could not see myself doing that. There would be this softness that comes about, where you would just get down on a knee and embrace and love and maybe not try to fix, but just hold them in that place. And so, now I’ve learned to do that internally for myself and hold these parts that don’t feel enough or feel sad and allow them to feel sad, right? No longer the, oh, sadness, resist, push down, I don’t do that anymore.

And as you experience what happens is, and this happens in five minutes, 10 minutes, it’s not a long process. The sensation just disintegrates. You just feel, either it goes down, it goes up, it just moves out. And in lieu of that, now you have all this incredible flow. And with that flow and energy comes new information that when you’re holding this stuff so tight and trying to figure it out through your mind, you have no access to.

In the release, this new information comes through, and this new information can guide you. It will be like, “oh, I didn’t think about talking to that person.” This will come into mind and be like, “call them,” and you’re like, “okay!” And then you call them, and they’re like, “this, and this, and this, and this, and this.”

Shana:

Thank you again. Thank you, too, for modeling that process. I actually take a lot of my clients through that. It’s slowing down and letting yourself feel it, not trying to get rid of it. One of my teachers I love, says, “Oh sweetheart.” It’s like talking to those parts of ourselves. “Oh sweetheart, of course, you’re crying, Of course, you’re sad, or of course you’re angry.”

Well, thank you, Ilan, so much for all of this. I always feel like what we cover is only a drop in the bucket of what you have to offer. And for now, we can do this again, is there anything you want to leave men with around this idea of the divine masculine, the process that you’ve gone through, the freedom, the trust?

Ilan Ferdman:

Yeah. So, we have an amazing Facebook group and amazing resources. One of the things that I would highly recommend, if you resonate with this conversation at all, and you want to learn a little bit more about the “how-to”, we have a series of meditations that we make available. We have a series of free pieces of training that kind of dive into these aspects. And we do live calls and training in this Facebook group called ‘Old Souls and Seekers.’ So, if you go to joinoldsouls.com, just all one word, joinoldsouls.com, you can gain access to that group. Inside, we have coaches and support people you can contact and have conversations with and be like, “Hey, I’m looking for this meditation, ” and they’ll guide you.

I highly, highly, highly recommend doing these meditations because it will help you start a practice of healing these things instead of just dealing with these things. And it will change every relationship that you have with others, And more importantly, with yourself. Because I find with men, the one thing is, we are so hard on ourselves. That thing with the four-year-old boy, if you think about the way you actually talk to your four-year-old boy inside, “work harder!” Are you kidding me? If you stood over your four-year-old son or daughter and you just yelled at them, all day-

Shana:

They would just crumble.

Ilan Ferdman:

And they still perform for you. You are that way with them, and they still perform for you. So, now imagine if you actually loved and supported them and gave them acceptance, what could they be capable of? That is just, oh, it’s amazing!

Shana:

Thank you so much. Thank you for going through this journey and for the risk that it takes to lose it all to come. I don’t even want to say clean that doesn’t feel like the right word because none of it’s dirty, right? I think that’s the whole point of it is, none of it’s dirty, none of it’s actually shameful. And to be an example for men of being able to bridge those receptive and slower and softer parts, and the parts that are harder and get it done and to show up and show that to a world that’s not always welcoming of that, it feels like that takes a lot of courage. So, thank you so much for doing it and for sharing.

Ilan Ferdman:

Thank you. And just one little thing, I just want to make sure that people don’t read it as one is right, and one is wrong. They are both so perfect. And this work is about integrating everything into the whole, not making this right and this wrong, and getting rid of this and adding this. It really is just about the integration. So I just want to make sure that that was clear.

Shana:

Thank you. Awesome. Thank you.

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