My Life

Restless

“I wanted to be a rockstar–sing for a living. I did for a while, I guess. I opened for a few famous bands…you wouldn’t know them. But hey, if that’d happened I’d never have gotten to work at this palace.”

Sarcasm runs thick in his last sentence. He works morning crew, up well before the sun to stock shelves; he sings for a local cover band on  weekends, always looking for a gig. He piqued my curiosity. I started asking others: “What was your dream job when you were younger?” She was hesitant to divulge.

“I don’t know…

“Come on there must’ve been something.”

“Well, I used to want to work at a bakery.”

You should. You would be good at that.”

“Oh, it’s too late now…”

Her attention to detail, the perfectly dribbled white chocolate accents on her once-a-year chocolate covered strawberries, her flawless fruit trays. On her off days she bakes cookies with her young granddaughter, then comes in showing pictures. (“Look how well she did for her age.”) Maybe it runs in the genes.

“I wanted to be a major league baseball player, but my realistic dream was to be a teacher.”

“What kind?”

“Oh, I didn’t have that nailed down yet…maybe History or Economics. A teacher and a coach.”

“Why didn’t you?”

My dad ran off with his girlfriend, and we were kind of backwards, you know…didn’t know how to get loans and stuff.” 

He would’ve made a great teacher and coach. He teaches in church now and again, using object lessons; he’s and umpire during the softball season in the effort to earn a little extra cash.

I’ve been restless lately, itching to move on. I think it’d be fun to work at a zoo or as a truck driver, or something… Maybe it’s stupid to want that. My manager is amazing. He gave me two ice cream sandwiches today, slipped me money to take a coworker who’s been down out to eat last week.  You can’t put a price tag on that. Money shouldn’t matter, even if I could make more money working at McDonald’s than here, but, at the same time I don’t want to work produce my whole life long. I want to make a difference, see the world–but also watch my brother’s grow up. As usual I’m conflicted.

I don’t want to be a tragedy like their stories. Years go tricking by. I have enough dreadlocks to enjoy, but not too many to hide. Could I get hired? Do I want to? I’ve not always had much luck with that in the past, but now I can say I have some job experience under my belt. Even so, there aren’t many options for jobs around here, unless I want factory work. Or I could move. Now there’s a scary prospect.

These are the thoughts that occupy my mind, my time. Is this restless a prompting of God, or my own selfishness manifested? I’ve always been enticed by the idea of travel, being a vagabond as described by Robert W. Service in his poem The Men Who Don’t Fit In:

“There’s a race of men that don’t fit in,
    A race that can’t stay still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin,
    And they roam the world at will.
They range the field and they rove the flood,
    And they climb the mountain’s crest;
Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,
    And they don’t know how to rest.”
.

But that’s just the first stanza. The rest reads:

.

“If they just went straight they might go far;
    They are strong and brave and true;
But they’re always tired of the things that are,
    And they want the strange and new.
They say: “Could I find my proper groove,
    What a deep mark I would make!”
So they chop and change, and each fresh move
    Is only a fresh mistake.
And each forgets, as he strips and runs
    With a brilliant, fitful pace,
It’s the steady, quiet, plodding ones
    Who win in the lifelong race.
And each forgets that his youth has fled,
    Forgets that his prime is past,
Till he stands one day, with a hope that’s dead,
    In the glare of the truth at last.
He has failed, he has failed; he has missed his chance;
    He has just done things by half.
Life’s been a jolly good joke on him,
    And now is the time to laugh.
Ha, ha! He is one of the Legion Lost;
    He was never meant to win;
He’s a rolling stone, and it’s bred in the bone;
    He’s a man who won’t fit in.”
.

No matter what I do I’ll never fit in, but it seems to me that this is the part of life where I choose if I’ll go straight and (supposedly) far, or bounce around everywhere and get (supposedly) nowhere., My instinct says go roam, though my comfort zone holds me back. Any advice for someone on the brink? Any stories? What did you dream of being way back when?

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Categories: Journey Prologues., My Life, Ponderings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Awakening

“I want to wake up kicking and screaming.
I want to live like I know what I’m leaving.
I want to know that my heart is still beating.”
~Switchfoot

I get so lost in the haze these days. Granted, I probably remember the past as being more simple than it truly was, but still… I’m looking for answers in what feels like a half-asleep daze, yet I dislike both those who claim to have simple, pat solutions and those who say “Your choice…I don’t want to sway you.” Why don’t we all come with instruction manuals?

I complain too much. I’ve got it good compared to many, both in mental and physical ways; to grumble about feelings of stagnation and apathy really doesn’t do anyone any good, but then what does? Someone told me “You did come with an instruction mainual– God’s Word.” It isn’t that simple. I don’t like change, but neither do I like rutstuckedness. I think I would take change over these feelings. Maybe I’ll meet God at camp and He will tell me what to do, but I have my doubts.

Doubts…I think I have all of the disciples’ weaknesses: doubting Thomas, impulsive Peter, wanting God to do what I expect is his plan and remove my troubles (for him the Romans) Judas. So many weaknesses and so few strengths. I wish I got directions in visions like Paul. “Go here. Do this.” But I guess we all have different versions of the thorn in the flesh to remind us of our humanness. That’s something I hope never to forget– my unworthiness and God’s grace. Our camp theme is going to be “It’s Not About Me”, something this grumbler could use to be reminded of. It’s about Him and His glory and His plan, even when I see no semblance of an organized plan in my life.

I need to get out of this fog. I want to wake up, know what I’m leaving, feel my heart beating, and really live, whether that means leaving the humdrum and mundane behind or learning to live voraciously in the midst of routine I do not know. I rather hope it is the former. Care to share any ideas of what has helped you to break out of spiritual ruts? I would love the help of The Body. Tell me, how do you keep from losing heart? How do you stay spiritually awake?

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Calling?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe empty page taunts me again, the bane of every writer. Beginning, especially when you don’t know where you’re going to go is a daunting task, but I’ve promised myself to try and write a post per week again. So, I’ll brave this ever-decreasing white space. I’ll try and fill it with something meaningful.

The pastor talked this Sunday about work and calling and vocation. (Did you know the Latin root word for “vocation” actually means calling? Me neither). In Sunday School we talked with the visiting college students about majors and minors and roommates and college life. Afterwards my sister found a fellow graduated-at-16, homeschooler going into the chemistry field and chatted for ages. For me it’s almost always easy to pick out the former or current homeschooler in a group. But that’s a rabbit trail if I’ve ever heard one.

“Calling.” I’m not sure if I believe in that word so much as most do. I’ve been admonished from little up to know or find my calling. To pray and “Don’t go to college unless you know what you want for sure.” The pastor said to not get good grades and go to college and get a good job without finding your calling. He said find your calling “And then get good grades and go to college and get a good job.”, which struck me as laughable. God doesn’t call everyone to college, and, I get the feeling that God’s definition of “a good job” would be far different than society’s. But what do I know of holy? What do I know of what God wants, for my life, let alone for yours? Not much. Next to nothing.

I don’t get precise direction like most people seem to. They graduate high school and “God called me to this school.”, and then to this mission field or that job. I got my current job because I was job hunting and it was offered to me. Could that be God’s direction? I think yes. I didn’t pray before accepting it, I don’t know that I’ll know when I am called to leave it. I only know that I do life messily; I make it up as I go along. Is that so wrong?

I have dreams of saving up enough to take at least a year off of work and going adventuring. To meet people, and travel places, and take offers I currently have to refuse because I’m working. You want a companion to bike with you to the Grand Canyon? Yes. There is an opportunity to sail for four weeks on The Flagship Niagra? Yes, I’d love to do that. Let me be a wayfarer and join the WWOOFERs for 6 months. Let me buy a cheap round ticket to another country. Let me meet new people and live frugally, but well. Granted, my roots are deep in this country, in this state, this county, this place. I plan to return. Maybe I’ll never muster up the gumption or the money to leave for a while. But I can dream, right? The pastor said that only 60% of the population is working like that’s a bad thing. Jesus didn’t start his intended job, what he was called to, until he was 30. Somehow (and maybe I’m biased), I don’t think he’d mind so much if I took a year off to explore the wonderful planet and the wonderful people that my God has created. But I’m not ordained, and I don’t always feel his spirit. What do I know of God’s elusive will?

Sometimes I think I’m a broken record, that I write about the same things here too often to be at all compelling or interesting to read. I suppose I’ll apologize…but maybe not. This is my life. Coherency is overrated. I still repeat less than some Bible passages. This blog is supposed to be about God and I, and too often with Him I get rut stuck or go in circles. Life in transition isn’t glamorous or interesting. I had always thought that your late teens and twenties were meant to be the prime of your life. Maybe I’m not living that to it’s full potential? I don’t know. I don’t feel like I know much of anything these days. On that note, it’s time to wrap this post up. The page is not so blank anymore, and hopefully the words that fill it are at least somewhat meaningful, not only to me but also to others. Hopefully they struck a chord. Tell me, did they?

 

Categories: My Life, rants | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Hopeful

I think too much at work. Think about how, as I get older, life just keeps getting more complex, about how such complexity has stolen some of the light from (my once jovial friend and coworker) Kacey’s eyes. About the stories of each person I meet in the store. And of the people I used to meet in the hallways. Another one of my coworkers asked me that: “Do you remember walking the halls?” Yes, yes I do. I remember thinking about the stories as I surveyed the sea of faces. When the halls were empty I walked by the lockers, I thought of the souls and cried. I remember…

It’s sad how sensitivity dulls with exposure. There are lockers at work too. I’m far enough in now to have begun hearing the stories. People like to think that those who are depressed or self harm are the exceptions. Really, if you dig deep enough, they might be the rule.

“You look happy today.”

“I’m good at faking.”

“I think most people are.”

Sometimes I kick myself for not noticing it in their eyes. You can nearly always catch it there if you watch. Sometimes I hate that I say too much; other times I stay quiet when I should speak up. Occasionally, I get it right. Like last week. A simple not saying essentially “I get it. I’ve been there. I care.”  A brief break from my earthly work to pursue my heavenly calling. “I’m just going to hand this to you and awkwardly walk away. Connecting later on social media. It felt so good to get it right for once.

I miss the school. I miss the little things, like windows. Being cooped up in windowless backrooms in a large rectangular building without so much as a peek at the beauty outdoors is torture. Can I make a difference? I know less and less of the answers as the days go by. I cannot impart a hope I do not possess for myself. It’s easy to lose my own spiritual walk in the fray, to become “Much-afraid” again, even after The Shepherd has changed my name, for those of you who get that reference.

But I think and hope that I won’t be caged in the brick building forever. I think, I hope, that I’m making at least a bit of a positive difference there. Even if it’s just bringing a smile to brighten a coworker’s day as they dub me “Janice Joplin” (Joppie for short), “Robin Hood” or “Minnie Pearl” because of my outlandish hat.

Maybe someday I will work with the people and age group of my passion again. There are hopeful signs: Being friended by a member of the Apache Youth Ministries team that I’d love to work with someday, a mention of a possible student teaching opportunity next year, the camp counseling week in June that I am so looking forward to. It is these things that make my heart skip a beat; It is these things that bring me hope. I pray that I may walk worthy of the calling even in the long, frustrating transition stage of my journey. So…that’s me. Where are you today on your journey, my friends?

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Poem

A rather depressing, wry take… I wrote this during the final month of the long winter, during March. Things are getting better since then in more ways than one. Don’t worry too much, Mom. Writing is based off of the emotions of the moment, and even in the low moment when I wrote this it turned out even more calloused than I felt. But, it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted poetry, so I thought I’d put it up regardless. I’m hoping to post more regularly than I have been, and posting this is a part of that attempt.

 

“You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”
Or choke you like a collar attached to a leash as you run in the opposite direction.
“The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak”
The spirit is willing…sometimes, but sometimes it flees His protection.

“Ye of little faith.”
I believe, actually. I’m just afraid of dying to myself.
“Acknowledge Him, and he will make your path straight.”
My crooked ways please me so I put God on the shelf.

“Why do the nations rage,
and the people plot in vane?
The kings of the earth
have all joined together
to turn against the Lord and his Annointed saying
“Let’s cut the ropes and set oursleves free.”
But the one who sits in Heaven laughs,
He scoffs at them.
Then, in His anger, He rebukes them.”

Categories: My Life, Poems, rants | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Two

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Two potential blog topics have been bouncing around in my head. Honestly, they don’t mesh well, but I think I’ll have a go at conjoining them regardless.

~~~

First (and I know I’ve said this before); It isn’t fair. It isn’t fair that I’m saved and not my nonbelieving friends. If our roles reversed as far as upbringing I’m nearly sure that our beliefs would switch as well. If you aren’t a Christian by your late teens, statistically the chance you’ll become one decreases sharply.

Also, some of them have tried. Nearly all have appealed to God at some point, put their money on Christianity… Over and over I hear “It didn’t make a difference.”, “God didn’t answer.”, “I didn’t feel Him.”. I get that God is not a genie. I understand. But that does not mean I don’t hold out some anger, some resentment. I know of those who tried God, got their ‘sign’, and are with Him today. Why didn’t my friends get answers? “Do not test the Lord your God.” Yes, yes I know, but…I’d give anything for the many I care about to have found Salvation. Seasoned skeptics let down by God and the church discourage me more than most anything else. There, I said it–I have a grudge against God.

If anyone decides not to shun me they can read on now to hear my next non-original thought. That is that there is a reason for God’s rules. We break them in search of temporary happiness or satisfaction or pleasure, and we get burnt, short term or long term, sooner or later.I’ve discovered this in my own life, but also on 7 cups. Open relationships aren’t Biblical; they don’t work. You get hurt, wonder why your significant other doesn’t trust you… Call me a simpleton  but to me it’s obvious. I hold my tongue there and try to sympathize a bit more, of course. After all, don’t we all break God’s law only to discover why it was there in the first place? Maybe not. Maybe I’m the only one who learns most things through mistakes. Ah well, I can serve as a counterexample for the rest of you.

~~~

Anyways, those are my two points; that is my poorly written blog post. Now I’m off to hopefully get at least five and a half hours of sleep before work in the morning. Goodnight.

 

Categories: My Life, Ponderings | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Fulfilled

I’m too tired to write a compelling blog post, so I don’t know why I’m trying. I guess it’s because days pass in a blur, and I realize it’s been a while since I’ve written, and that bothers me. Old habits die hard. Since I wrote here last I’ve discovered this website called 7 Cups of Tea, which I’m devoting a lot of my time to. I’m an active listener there. I meet people at their darkest points and try to help them. . Sometimes I get to share God. It is really fulfilling–helping me to add more people into my produce centric life. Sometimes I exhaust myself trying to balance to two, but it’s worth it.

I’m also trying to keep up with my real life people–people who live close to me, those I know. There are four I’d like to take on some kind of coffee date when I get the chance. Talking life, and struggles, and God in person can be helpful. Plus, I’ve had requests for another campfire when the weather clears. What better way to tithe than to buy hot dogs and s’more fixings for my people? Bring them here, let them feel loved…And, I’m having my second sleepover this month coming soon. Deep topics come up at 2 am. I hope I’m coherent enough that the words I say make enough sense to make a difference.

I went to see the movie Do You Believe? today. I’m not a huge movie fan, but this depicted the people in such a compelling, true to life way. I saw my people…the cutters, the suicidal, the soldiers, those who’ve given up hope, those trying to prove themselves, those lost in grief…I saw them and I cried, and I hoped others would leave the theater and act on their professed belief, realize that such people are real, and that they’re starving for love. I cannot singlehandedly save the world, as my mother likes to remind me. But there is so much need…The days fly by, and I hope I am making enough of an impact with my one, short life. For now I need to sleep. Fight hard my comrades in arms. There’s a world out there  starving for meaning and searching for genuine love.

Categories: My Life, Ponderings | 1 Comment

My People –Character Sketch

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWho are we? The broken youth, simultaneously seeking and avoiding meaning, altogether wary of anyone who claims to know purpose and hope, convinced that truth can be neither easy nor complex. Oh yes, we’ve sat in the churches of our parents and grandparents. We’ve seen the shams of both our forefathers and our peers who claim the title “Christian”. Claim religion Sunday mornings and live the opposite every other hour of the week; pray when life gets tragic. Does your god hear you? Do you even really, fully believe he exists? There are some who follow the rules the rest of the week too, but even they are empty. Will they be saved by doing good?

ΞΞΞ

No, spirituality, and Wicca, and Hinduism, and Native American beliefs are much more appealing. I’ve never been sold on the ritual and tradition and rigidity of the church. Time to try something else. Positive energy, oneness, gems, karma, incantations, incense, symbols and nature are much more compelling then a regimented system of belief derived from an ancient book. Connect with what I feel, with my emotions, and I’ll be much more convinced. Explain the vibes, the spirits, tell me of the goddesses and fables. Let’s connect with what I feel, with the mystery of the universe. That appeals to me.

I casually study herbs and purchase pendants with deeper meanings on my electric device. I’ll research crusades which led to the brutal death of many. I’ll read of witch trials conducted by the ancestors of those who taught me their Old English hymns, and the cynic in me will be even more convinced. I’ll strive for Nirvana. I’ll light a candle in my dark room–fire, a basin of water for liquid, an open curtain–air, a bit of soil sprinkled about. Life essences. Or how about a traditional dagger for my ceremonies? Lead me on with the tangible in my search for meaning. Maybe I will find my way.

ΞΞΞ

These are the stakes. This is the mindset of my people. How do we defend the truth? This isn’t a system, this isn’t about fighting the people, this is about fighting the darkness. Mark Twain said “It is easier to fool people than to convince them they have been fooled.” Pulling back the curtain of lies of the Serpent is next to impossible. In ways I’ve had very little success, so I’m probably not one to give suggestions. But here are my thoughts:

  • Be genuine
  • Know apologetics
  • Be accepting
  • Share (food, etc.)
  • Truly listen
  • Don’t disregard their beliefs
  • Don’t disregard their pain
  • Try to be like Jesus

 

 

 

 

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Vegetables vs. People

Remember when I used to post twice a week back in my good blogger days when I had at least some of the answers and life was slower and filled with the people I loved? Those days are long gone now. So much has changed now, and I know less than I did before. But I’ve had a precious opportunity to go back for a week to people. Summer camp…those magical words. Senior high…I’ve been there, done that shebang. I may not have much wisdom, but at least I can relate. The idea of summer, and being surrounded by excited brink-of-adulthood people, and wearing normal or abnormal clothes (my job makes me realize how much I took both jeans and Ts and being allowed to express my weirdness through my apparel for granted), and seeking God together, and being outdoors makes my heart light up in places that have been dim for quite some time. Actually, I’m afraid I’ll be discontent when I have to go back.

I’ve said it before, I don’t really mind my job. I like handling food, produce in particular, though by this point I’ve seen more than my fair share. The people are pretty amazing. They appreciate my weirdness (apart from the store owner). My boss works with me and forgives my stupid mistakes (like showing up for work two hours early due to bleariness from working mornings all week and general incompetence with numbers.) The money isn’t bad, and we’ve got a pay raise coming up here soon. Honestly, my only complaint is that my wrists being mutilated from the repeated motions of the wrapper. Writing two pages in a notebook never hurt like that before. But when your boss gets you a $10.00 pen for Christmas, it’s not exactly right to complain that your job is encumbering your writing either, is it? I’ve faced worse pain. I’ll survive.

No, I don’t mind my job much at all. There are good days and bad days, but such is life. Yet, while I don’t dislike my job, it also does not fulfill my passion. Maybe it’s unrealistic to expect that anymore. Maybe I’m stupid to still want to do something that I love. After all, I’m lucky to be doing something that I don’t hate with people that I get along with most of the time. That makes me better off than many I know. Besides, I might not even like teaching. It’s a morning job, and sometimes being cooped up in a building with a bunch of over-dramatic adults is enough to get on my nerves, and that doesn’t even hold a candle to being in a classroom with a group of melodramatic teens, struggling, sometimes in very unattractive, frustrating ways, to find their place in the world. Even still, that mental image ignites my soul, much like that of the week of counseling at summer camp. I want to be making a difference. No matter what the par of my work with vegetables and fruits, no matter the degree of excellence or professionalism I achieve, it’s not going to change anyone’s life. Should I settle for less?

I should note here that I realize the possibility of being a light to my coworkers, and I do strive to be one. But there is something about the impressionable, young time. The majority of people who make a decision for Christ do so before their late teens. Even if it were not so, those people, those kind of places put a light in my soul like no other. A week without pay is more than worth a week at camp to me. But is there a way I could love the people and make a living simultaneously? Something achievable, and not debt inducing? A journey there that I could enjoy along the way? Or should I settle? Some of the employees at the store I work with have been there for twenty plus years. Regardless of whether I stay there, do I want to work any job not geared towards the people for any length of time? I think these things, and I get up and go to work each day. I’ve come no closer to a conclusion. I think, for now, maybe I’ll buy myself a car.

 

Categories: Journey Prologues., My Life | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Lines and Labels

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABreaking news: I’ve discovered yet another line in Christian culture, and now (of course) I must decide which side I am on! Because obviously we can’t all be on the same side, and (of course) whichever side I pick will be Jesus’ side, because, y’know, He always sides with me, and speaks plainly to me about what is His good and perfect will. In addition, He always cares about every facet of Christian culture, because our varying opinions on baptism are totally a significant reason that we cannot possibly work together to feed the destitute. Yada, yada, yada. You get the point.

Sarcasm aside, I did find it slightly ironic when both this and various articles from this website came into my facebook feed on the same day. Disregarding that specific topic (No, this is not another persuasive essay about 50 Shades. You can breath a sigh of relief now.), I feel that that incident points to a bigger disagreement that has been forming in my practices over the last few years. Allow me to clarify. I grew up on Moody radio, rather conservative sermons, Brio magazine, and the purity culture whose effects are being dissected and debated quite a bit of late. But as I’ve grown older, I’ve also come under the influence of another, somewhat more liberal branch of Christian thought. I’ve been a fairly faithful reader of Deeper Story  for several years, I followed Prodigal Magazine back when it was a thing, and, I can’t fail to mention Jamie the very worst missionary. Who knew that actual missionaries could swear? I thought that was, like, pretty much impossible. Granted, I don’t agree with everything I’ve come across on any of those websites, but neither do I agree with everything I’ve heard on Moody, or in sermons, or in purity culture. Yet, I also can’t say that I know exactly where I stand in between these two extremes.

I don’t have a set, writ opinion on feminism, or even necessarily on the gender of God. I refer to Him as masculine because the Bible does, but really I think Johnny Cash captured it best when he coined the title “Father Hen” without attempting explanation. I have friends who’ve courted and dated specifically for marriage, and I have friends who’ve lost their v card, some of whom don’t regret it. I have friends who basically abhor swearing, and never associate with people who curse; I have friends who swear like soldiers. And you know what? They aren’t terrible people any more than we all are. I love both groups just the same. I know folks who’ve marched in the march for life, and I know those who vehemently believe that in many circumstances abortion is the most humane option. I socialize with Christians who drink or smoke and also those from the polar opposite camp. I could go on…

But essentially, I guess this boils down to that I don’t know which side I’m on, and as much as I dislike labels, they are a part of being human. I gain security, and self worth from knowing who I am. Also, I think a crux of all of these issues is how I choose to view grace. The first of the extremes I’m caught between easily morphs into old testament legalism, and the second into a grace happy, sin and you’ll be forgiven existence. Legalism repels me, so often I lean towards the second, but the first somehow comes with me, and I’m seen as quite conservative by my “living in the freedom of New Testament grace” friends. Bottom line? I don’t fit. Which is nothing new. I should be used to this by now. I just wish I could pinpoint where I stand…

*footnote: Camp conservative is having a hard time stomaching the idea of me in dreadlocks (which I plan to get this June). For now my appearance allows me to group hop. Maybe then I’ll be stuck in the one extreme.

 

 

 

Categories: My Life, Ponderings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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