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Daring Greatly (book 12 of 26)

Daring Greatly (book 12 of 26)

June 17, 2018
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“When we stop caring about what other people think, we lose our capacity for connection. When we become defined by what people think, we lose our willingness to be vulnerable. If we dismiss all the criticism, we lose out on important feedback, but if we subject ourselves to the hatefulness, our spirits get crushed. It’s a tightrope, shame resilience is the balance bar, and the safety new below is the one or two people in our lives who can help us reality-check the criticism and cynicism.”

Daring Greatly, subtitled How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent and lead, is a book by Brené Brown, shame- and vulnerability-researcher, made famous by her TEDxHouston Talk, which is well worth a look if you’ve yet to see it.

The-gap-starts-here-We-can-t-give-people-what-we“Here’s the question: We don’t intentionally create cultures in our families, schools, communities, and organizations that fuel disengagement and disconnection, so how does it happen? Where’s the gap?

The gap starts here: We can’t give people what we don’t have. Who we are matters immeasurably more than what we know or who we want to be.

This is the first of her books that I’m reading in English, which I strongly recommend, compared to the lousy translation to Swedish of one of her earlier works that I suffered through a while back. Daring Greatly is an easy read, and there’s loads of stuff within it to think about, to try out, to discuss with family, friends and colleagues, for sure. All the while, having listened to her in numerous pod’s, it’s as if I already know most of this.

“Minding the gap is a daring strategy. We have to pay attention to the space between where we’re actually standing and where we want to be. More importantly, we have to practice the values that we’re holding out as important in our culture.”

There were a few tender moments while reading though, centering on recent events, making me cringe a bit…. knowing I’ve n o t been vulnerable enough, knowing full well that I am trying to skirt the issues at hand. Grateful for the reminder, most definitely, and getting ready to shed my armor.

“Giving and soliciting feedback is about learning and growth, and understanding who we are and how we respond to the people around us is the foundation in this process.”

Voicing my discomfort, to someone in a position to help me reality-check the feedback, as well as help me through it (not around, not away from: through!), certainly is one of the best ways for me to keep me on a road of expansion, or growth, of a deepening understanding and knowing of who I am, and how I am. Voicing my discomfort, the shame and fear and disgust and confusion, makes it all real, bringing it outside of the dark recesses of my brain, where it would otherwise – perhaps – be lurking around for ages, doing no one any good. Better to bring it out into the light to see what it’s actually about. Starting to dance with it, sooner or later I know I will have learned new dance moves, that will help me as I dance along in life.


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2018, to read and blog about 26 Swedish and 26 English books, one book every week, books that I already own.

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One Square Inch of Silence (book 11 of 26)

June 3, 2018
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One Square InchWhat a profound read! I am oh-so-affected by what I’ve just read.
Deeply impacted.

Am in a state of high-alert with regards to auditory observation ever since picking up One Square Inch of Silence: One Man’s Quest to Preserve Quiet by Gordon Hempton and John Grossmann.

“We’ve reached a time in human history when our global environmental crisis requires that we make permanent life-style changes. More than ever before, we need to fall back in love with the land. Silence is our meeting place.”

Last night I made a bed for myself out in the garden, and slept there, with my never-sleeping ears (there are no ear lids. Ever considered that before? Vision is something we can turn off, hearing is not.) curiously on the prowl for traffic noise, insects buzzing, birds chirping, leaves rustling, my own breath from my steadfast inhalations and exhalations.

“If asked to choose my favorite sound in the world, I doubt that I could do that easily. If forced, I might say it’s the dawn chorus of songbirds, the sound of the rising sun as it circles the globe. But that would disregard the murmur of winged insects as heard over many square miles in the Kalahari Desert, and if that were my favorite sound, that would ignore the hoot of an owl and the way it bounces off the cypress trees in Louisiana, and also ignore the clang of a church bell after it has echoed down the narrow stone streets of an Austrian village. If I had to supply a single answer to that question, my favorite sound in the world would be the sound of anticipation: the silence of a sound about to be heard, the space between the notes.”

I even downloaded a sound meter (actually – two, giving completely different results!) on my IPhone, having finally started to understand decibels and auditory measurements. Thanks to this book, I’ve got something to calibrate sound levels against as Gordon in a pedagogical manner jots in current decibel measurements for whatever it is he’s experiencing, giving me something of a map to help me navigate. Also I’ve gotten an understanding of the profound difference in restricting noise versus preserving quiet. Two completely different perspectives, that I’ve never given any thought to before. But now I do.

“Silence is not the absence of something but the presence of everything.”

And as I read, I remembered my recent weekend visit at Mundekulla. Walking down the narrow graveled road from the building where we had the course I was taking, to the dining hall where my room was also situated, I noticed the silence. Profound. Peaceful. Powerful!

“Silence seems to make music from everything, simply by isolating individual sounds, allowing the sounds time to form temporal relationships. Music is made out of rests and notes. Quiet times and exciting times, silence and sound. We need them both. More than any other sense, hearing unites everything.”

Now, after completing my read of One Square Inch of Silence, I more fully understand why the experience of quiet (which, in Gordon’s definition, means the absence of man-made noise, rather than no sound at all, an important distinction) holds such power over me (us!).

“Our public gathering places, for sports, literature, learning, and music, are intentional spaces, highly structured, and thus result in somewhat contrived experiences. Whenever I visit them I’m reminded of the vital importance of preserving places outside of human intention, unspoiled wilderness areas, places where we might regain sensory balance and learn from the unscripted, unedited, unenhanced, raw opportunity of nature.”

This concludes my third encounter with Gordon. You see, I first stumbled upon him while listening to On Being some years ago, an episode I highly recommend. My second run in with him was when we took a family vacation to Seattle and Vancouver in 2016 – with me being adamant to cross the sound to visit The Olympic Peninsula, which I would not have necessarily insisted upon, had I not listened to that podcast. While we were there, we took a day-trip to the western shores. En-route back, we stopped at Fairholme General Store along Lake Crescent, where they had a few copies of One Square Inch of Silence at the counter. So besides buying ice cream and two T-shirts, we also left the store with this book, a spur-of-the-moment piece of shopping of which I am truly grateful.


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2018, to read and blog about 26 Swedish and 26 English books, one book every week, books that I already own.

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Educated. A must-read.

May 25, 2018
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A few months ago, my brother sent me a podcast tip, of Tara Westover in conversation on Talking politics. I listened, intrigued and curious after reading this blurb:
David talks to Tara Westover about her incredible new book Educated, which tells the story of how a girl brought up by survivalists in Idaho and who never went to school ended up with a PhD from Cambridge.  Along the way we discuss what education means and what Tara’s journey has taught her about politics and about life.  Really, this is a conversation about the important stuff.

I searched for the book in my local library database, didn’t find it, and sent in a purchase request. As often happens, the library got the book, and sent me an email saying I could come pick it up. I did. And didn’t start to read, busy busy, with all the other books I’ve been reading (this being the 38th book I’ve read so far this year). Got another email from the library, saying I had to return it – managed to extend my loan, and still didn’t start to read, busy busy… Third email dropped into my inbox, saying the book was due back again. Tried to repeat my action to extend my loan, but alas, someone else has requested the book, due back this past Monday.

EducatedSo… I immediately returned it? No. Despicable me did not return it, but rather, finally got around to reading it! I just finished it, and I promise I will return it to the library come Monday, cross my heart and hope to die. And boy. What a book. What a story. I am very glad I took the time to read it.

Educated is…
impressive.
haunting.
hard to wrap my head around.
and a definite must-read!

During a visit to Cambridge in the UK; Tara get’s to walk atop the chapel of King’s College (it’s beautiful!), and walks up there, amazed at the sights. Her fellow students and the professor accompanying them, stays close to the walls, walking slowly and crab-like, afraid to fall to the ground. Tara doesn’t, and the professor points it out to her, asking how come she’s comfortable way up high on this roof.

“I can stand in this wind, because I’m not trying to stand in it,” I said. “The wind is just wind. You could withstand these gusts on the ground, so you can withstand them in the air. There is no difference. Except the difference you make in your head.”
He stared at me blankly. He hadn’t understood.
“I’m just standing,” I said. “You are all trying to compensate, to get your bodies lower because the height scares you. But the crouching and the sidestepping is not natural. You’ve made yourselves vulnerable. If you could just control your panic, this wind would be nothing.”
“The way it is nothing to you,” he said.

I’ve never actually thought about it, but she’s right. Why would it be harder to walk atop that roof, than down on the street below? Why is it harder to walk along a plank laid across a creek, that it is to walk across the kitchen floor? There is really not much of a difference, except the difference you make in your head. And once again, I am pointed back to the truth of how our thinking creates our experience of the world, in each and every moment.


Inspired to continue blogging on the theme from the #blogg100-challenge in 2017 I give you:
The book ”Educated” by Tara Westover

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Freakonomics (book 10 of 26)

May 20, 2018
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FreakonomicsFreakonomics – A rogue economist explains the hidden side of everything, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. I like this book. It’s fun, provocative, asks some super-odd questions that I’d never have come up with myself, and generally makes my mind bend in new and intriguing ways. Levitt (the economist in the pair, Dubner is the writer) certainly has made some significant inroads to what he himself sees as a shortage in the field of economics: As Levitt sees it, economics is a science with excellent tools for gaining answers but a serious shortage of interesting questions. 

While crunching data to get at the answer to the query of what schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common, data from Chicago was used, resulting in this mind boggling statement: An analysis of the entire Chicago data reveals evidence of teacher cheating in more than two hundred classrooms per year, roughly 5 percent of the total. This is followed up with an in-depth account of ways teachers cheat (in standardized testing), and how the data set available can show this. Quite amazing, I must say. Fortunately, the algorithms used to crunch the data also revealed the best teachers in Chicago. The analysis was used, the worst of the cheating teachers were sacked, and the best teachers were rewarded.

Another thing Steven and Stephen make very clear, is the difference between correlation and causality, the former being a statistical term that indicate whether two variables move together or not, whereas causality proves cause (x can cause y; y can cause x; or some other factor is causing both x and y). The chapter on What makes a perfect parent give ample evidence to how conventional wisdom is not necessarily true. For instance, everyone knows that parents should read to their kids, right? The more, the better. Well. No. It actually doesn’t matter that much, as there is no direct causality between reading to one’s kid every day and his/her school grades and success further on in adulthood.

Huh! Who would have known? Not me, that’s fore sure. I have most definitely bought into the conventional wisdom (is the modern name for it alternative fact?!) that parents must read aloud to kids, and since I’ve always been really bad at that, there’s been this little nagging thought, that I should have read more, I must be such a bad mother, have I condemned my kids to eternal failure…

An enjoyable read, humorous, odd-ball, giving me insights into things I’ve simply never ever considered before, I mean, these are the questions (and hence, chapters) of the book:
What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common?
How is the Ku Klux Klan like a group of real-estate agents?
Why do drug dealers still live with their moms?
Where have all the criminals gone?
What makes a perfect parent?
Perfect parenting, part II; or:Would a Roshanda by any other name smell as sweet?

So yes, quite possibly the result of me reading this book will be just what Steven and Stephen hope for: The most likely result of having read this book is a simple one: you may find yourself asking a lot of questions. Many of them will lead to nothing. But some will produce answers that are interesting, even surprising. 


The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2018, to read and blog about 26 Swedish and 26 English books, one book every week, books that I already own.

 

 

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A world of chance

May 15, 2018
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The-questions-echoed-in-my-head-without-answerIn a world of chance, is there a better and a worse? We yield to a stranger’s embrace or give ourselves to the waves; for the blink of an eyelid our vigilance relaxes, we are asleep; and when we awake, we have lost the direction of our lives. What are these blinks of an eyelid, against which the only defense is an eternal and inhuman wakefulness? Might they not be the cracks and chinks through which another voice, other voices, speak in our lives? By what right to we close our eyes to them? The questions echoed in my head without answer.

A paragraph from Foe, a book written by J. M. Coetzee. A book I read for The Gifted Book Club, chosen by Mr D. As I finished reading it, I wrote thisIt’s so interesting to read a book chosen by someone else (this is the book for my upcoming book club), a book I would not have picked up on my own volition. That in itself is a gift – to get to read a text written in a way that “most books I read isn’t written in”. Because it is an odd book, that’s for sure. I spent a few pleasant hours reading it last night.

What’s even more fascinating is that after, or honestly, during our conversation about the book that March evening, I felt a strong urge to reread it. To see if next time around, I would spot some of the things we talked about, things that deeply affected one or two of the other book club members, things which I didn’t pick up on at all, but definitely spark my curiosity.

That in itself is a gift – how our talk made me want to read the book again, with a different lens on. Or possibly two or three different lenses, besides my own. How wonderful: I look forward to it already!


Inspired to continue blogging on the theme from the #blogg100-challenge in 2017 I give you:
The book ”Foe” by J. M. Coetzee, which also happen to be the fourth book of The Gifted Book club, discussed March 21st 2018.

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Intuitive living: A sacred path (book 9 of 26)

May 6, 2018
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Personal dedicationI don’t even remember when I bought Intuitive living: A sacred path by (and directly from) Alan Seale, but it’s been at least five years I’d wager. I know I have bought it from Alan in person though at CoachWalk Academy, as he’s written a lovely dedication to me in it.

Anyway. So I chose this book, one I’ve had in my possession for years on end, and almost laugh at the synchronicity of it: this was definitely the right moment for me to read this book. Now, as I sit here blogging about it, I flick through the pages, and there are so many passages I’ve highlighted – passages that speak to me, that encourage me, that validate beliefs and concepts that I use as a coach and trainer, but also stuff that I have never thought about, and – a few times – stuff I’m not altogether certain if I agree with – that I just pick a few in random to share here: “Freedom and peace are inner states of being. Peace is not the absence of conflict, but rather your response to conflict. Being free and at peace means knowing without doubt that no matter what is happening around you, nothing can harm you at your center.”

“Being rigid in our beliefs and harsh in our judgments only leads to inflexibility in life. This makes any kind of adjustment to situations and conditions all the more difficult.”

“You may have notices that we have never discussed forgiveness. Forgiveness is not a concept of the All. Forgiveness implies judgment. Forgiveness implies right and wrong. Your Western culture and religions have created the concepts of sin and forgiveness as a way of controlling people’s minds. Judgment was created in this way. (You must understand judgment as being different from discernment. Discernment is an important skill to develop.) There is no place for judgment. The concepts of sin and forgiveness and redemption are not concepts borne out of Love. Love is within each one of you, bestowing mercy upon you in each moment of your existence.” [As voiced by Spirit.]

“Develop your craft. Take the journey. Light the light. Dance the dance. Be Love.”

There are plenty of exercises in this book, that I intend to try out, and I already know this to be a book I will revisit, likely more than once. (And isn’t that the best feeling? It’s a bit like making a new best friend!)

The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2018, to read and blog about 26 Swedish and 26 English books, one book every week, books that I already own.

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Our past is a story we tell

April 28, 2018
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I think that something that was a real turning point for me was the realization that we have a choice how we view our past. I could have come out of dad’s incarceration, that time of separation, this kind of wild years, when I was a teenager and really hurting a great deal and seen it as a tragedy that this had happened to us, and told the story, that our dad abandoned us you know, and he made this choice to be a drug trafficker when he had young children, and can you believe that?

Our-past-is-a-story-we-tellI could have decided to tell the story that way, and then I would be a different person, and a less happy person. But I chose to tell it differently, and I chose to see it differently, and I believe in my version of events very truly but it is a choice that we make. Our past is a story we tell, and how we tell that story is a choice we make about who we are, and how we want to be perceived, and who we want to be, and I think being aware of that certainly empowers you to rethink in some ways. 

These are the words of Tyler Wetherall, a woman who grew up with a dad on the run, at the end of her long conversation with Jonathan Fields on the Good Life Project podcast. She touches a topic very dear to me, something which I certainly have given a lot of thought to these past years.

The realization that it is I who give value to my experiences, I color them, I make them significant or insignificant, meaningful or meaningless. With each layer I wrap around my experiences I have a choice. Each layer presents itself as an opportunity for me. I get to choose victimhood or ownership. Love or hate. Making myself large, or small. Helpless or in charge. At the mercy of someone else’s choices, or at the helm of my own life.

Does this mean I always make “the right” choice? No. Of course not.
But the more I practice (with ample help in my most valued question How does this serve me?) the easier it is to make decisions in the moment that do me good rather than the opposite. We get better at that which we focus on, at that which we practice – so I’ve made a choice to focus on being gentle towards myself, and being aware of the choices I have, is one way of honoring myself.

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Think and Grow Rich (book 8 of 26)

April 22, 2018
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Think and Grow Rich is a book written by Napoleon Hill. It was first published in 1937, with a few more years of The Great Depression having the world in a firm grip. I picked up a copy in India some eight years ago, but again, never got around to reading it. until now – this was one of the books I decided to read for my English reading challenge of the year. The copy I picked up was the original unabridged version, and in a sense that’s a shame. Because it is dated. The way it is formulated, the actual style of the writing is a bit… well, it’s as if Mr Hill believe the reader to be a bit obtuse, so he’s capitalizing the most vital parts, and that in and of itself rubs me the wrong way.

I also do not like how 99% of all of his examples of successful men, are actually men. The women are few and far apart, and basically show up at the very end of the book. Two, or possibly three examples of ladies as successful role models to mimic, the rest of the time when women are mentioned speaks of “our” ability to wrap men around our little fingers. (I trust I don’t have to even begin to explain why this get’s me all riled up?!) But, given the fact that the book was written close to a century ago, I tried to let this slip.

And once I do that, sure, this is a book that has its virtues, for sure. And given the fact that this is actually one of the most successful books of all time, it would be weird if it didn’t right? Read what it says on Goodreads about Hill and this book: “Hill’s most famous work, Think and Grow Rich (1937), is one of the best-selling books of all time (at the time of Hill’s death in 1970, Think and Grow Rich had sold 20 million copies).” 

Here are a few of the passages which spoke to me for one reason or another:

Open-mindedness is essential for belief. Closed minds do not inspire faith, courage, and belief. 

Every man is what he is, because of the DOMINATING THOUGHTS which he permits to occupy his mind. 

we-are-where-we-are-and-what-we-are-because-of-ouKnowledge is only potential power. 

[…] the word ‘educate‘ is derived from the Latin word ‘educo‘, meaning to educe, to draw out, to DEVELOP FROM WITHIN.

Any man is educated who knows how to get knowledge when he needs it, and how to organize that knowledge into definite plans of action. 

The person who stops studying merely because he has finished school is forever hopelessly doomed to mediocrity, no matter what may be his calling. The way of success is the way of continuous pursuit of knowledge.

[…] we are where we are, and what we are, because of our own conduct!

A book worth reading? Hm. Yes. It is. But I hope (and trust!) that there’s a revised edition more recently re-worked, and if I were you, I’d pick up such a copy instead of the original unabridged version.

The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2018, to read and blog about 26 Swedish and 26 English books, one book every week, books that I already own.

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Key person of influence (book 7 of 26)

April 8, 2018
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Key person of influenceKey person of influence, by Daniel Priestley. A book gifted to me by my friend Michael Sillion, aka Captain Future. He gave it to me with the sweetest inscription, with the hope that it would inspire me as much as he has been inspired by me. And yes Michael, this is a book that inspires me. There are a few threads that stick out for me from this first read (yes. This is a book I will reread.):

  1. I will get going with my podcast plans. (Plans that have been plans for far too long, it is time to get started.)
  2. The distinction between resources and resourcefulness. This is an angle I have not previously come at the concept of resources from, and it makes for quite an interesting perspective I must say. Love it!
  3. This is a book full of questions that I would like to sit with – ponder, reflect upon, throw out there and see what comes back… (hence the re-reading intention!)

As for the second thread, here’s a paragraph from the book, with a sassiness (of course!) that puts a smile upon my face:

No matter what you need in your business or your life, getting it will be a function of your resourcefulness rather than whether the resources are available. Of course they are available. 

The three biggest factors that determine your resourcefulness are:

  • The questions you ask.
  • The people you know. 
  • Your willingness to stretch into the unknown. 

All of these factors are things I’ve been very actively working on.

The questions you ask.
A very dear friend of mine recently reflected on the fact that she now asks many more questions than she did upon meeting me (in 2013). The mantra “the questions you ask are more important than the answers you give (or receive)” is a way to be in the world that I’ve been hammering home (for me as well as for those I spend time with) these past years.

The people you know.
Ever since the same time that I met both of the people I’ve referred to above, I’ve “collected” people that inspire me, people that make me strive to be my better self. Matthew Kelly says it perfectly in The rhythm of life, a book I’ve yet to read, but definitely want to:
The people we surround ourselves with either raise or lower our standards. They either help us to become the-best-version-of-ourselves or encourage us to become lesser versions of ourselves. We become like our friends. No man becomes great on his own. No woman becomes great on her own. The people around them help to make them great. 

We all need people in our lives who raise our standards, remind us of our essential purpose, and challenge us to become the-best-version-of-ourselves.

Your willingness to stretch into the unknown.
I used to fear the unknown. I had the mistaken belief that my worth, my value as a person, resided in my ability to know, to be wise, knowledgeable, a veritable Encyclopedia Helenica… So for me to admit to not knowing, scared me senseless. I still struggle with this, there’s a lot of long-lived patterns of automatic responses for instance, giving the impression that I know full well what’s being talked about, even though I don’t have a clue, but a lot of it’s gone. Perhaps helped along the most by two aspects of my personal development these past five-ten years or so; my ability to be gentle with myself (and not knock myself upside the head with a mental shovel whenever I make a mistake or don’t live up to high inner standards) as well as my curiosity (also a trait I’ve actively cultivated).

The book I am blogging about is part of the book-reading challenge I’ve set for myself during 2018, to read and blog about 26 Swedish and 26 English books, one book every week, books that I already own.

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7even last words: Reunion

March 30, 2018
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7even last wordsToday was the day for the first performance ever of 7even last words, a musical production written by Jens Eriksson, choirmaster of Södra Sallerups kyrkokör, a ladies’ choir in Malmö. We gave the performance in Husie church, accompanied by Friiskvartetten, a string quartet.

The production contains seven movements, one for each of the Sayings of Jesus on the cross. As always, each movement has its on distinctive sound, each tugging a different string within as I listen, as I sing, as I get lost in the cadence and rhythms, the tonality of the cello, the viola, the violins.

Below you will find the seventh and last piece, titled Reunion. It’s fun – listening to this piece I hear it differently, than I do when being in the midst of the choir. The back and forth between the sopranos and the altos isn’t as clear to me as a member of the choir, as it is when listening to it being performed.

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