The Power of Minimalist Living

My minimalist living project began the moment I decided to total renovate my one bedroom apartment and change it into a studio apartment with a Murphy bed.  Previous to this tranistion I would wake up in the morning ,open my eyes only to feel closed in as the room was bedroom was small and my adding a floor to ceiling book shelf did not help.

Now, I wake up and can see  a wall 30 feet away . I have a sense of expansion in my vision and life. As everything in life ,one gives up something to gain something else. In this case it is privacy. Since I live alone it is not an issue. When I do have company staying for a period of time we somhow adjust to the situation. It isn’t ideal but doable. I do have the Japanese screens that I can utilize to create a private space if necessary.

The beaury of this transformation is that I create a third more space in my minimalist apartment , making the bed is simply tossing the bed up to become the facade of a closet , and it facilitates having a clean and a tidy uncluttered space.

I have lived for decades now in Asia every winter and for several years lived in Japan.The Asian are masters of minimalist living and decluttering as space is a premium in Asia due to the dense population. I would say Hong Kong is an extreme exactly as well as apartment living in Tokyo and now Bangkok.

We in the West clutch on to many material possesions and filll many rooms of a house which is used for storage not living. The car is never parked in the garage as it has become a huge storage unit for most Westerners.

Time flies and soon the grim reaper arrives .  Suddenly , all that you held sacred and could not let go is released as you enter the formless.

It’s challenging to let go all these things that we have always thohgt impossible to live with ;  but the reward is immense.

I travel for five months every winter with only two carry on bags and surprisingly I don’t miss anything. The mysteries of life.

 

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Happiness and Health

.             Yesterday , as I walked briskly to my chiropractic appointment , I could smell the new Spring grass after the recent rainstorms in Toronto. I thought, Spring is the time of birth, of hope , of new beginnings.

After helping my friend down size again  during the past two weeks for the second time in two years, I felt the need for a tune up by my wise wholistic Chiroptactor, Dr. Patricia. McCord.  It turned out to be the best session that I ever had with her and she quiped ,”you should help someone move every week”. I replied, ” I don’t know about that ,it was rather quite hard work”. I found it interesting that I was a decade or two older than many of her friends, but they all have back and knee problems and ccould not help her with her move.

I have always made health -physical , emotional and mental health a priority in my life since my teenage years began. I have always been health conscious , studying various eating approaches over the past five decades and  reaching the conclusion that eating healthy is rather simple : eat whole uncontaminated foods and drink pure water.

I recently read a synopsis of a book on detoxificaton. The author mention several approaches ,but in the end the best thing you can do he says is eat organic  food. Someone posted on Facebook, “You should not ask why organic food is so expensive ,but why supermarket food is so inexpensive”. One of my favourite healthy foods is avocado and most times it is less expensive in my organic super market than in my local grocery store.

About two years ago , I began shopping at Costco for organic frozen berries as my health food store had priced blue berries out of the price that I was willing to pay. Since then , I have added organic frozen Peaces and Cream corn, Broccolli , and other vegetables to my weekly shopping as well as eggs. Living alone, I don’t always feel like eating the fresh vegetables right away so oftentimes they wilt and I throw them out. With frozen foods, I can eat the portion I want and the rreat remains fresh. Costco, in Ontario , Canada is buying up land and paying farmers to farm organically.

This year was my 27th winter living in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I did venture to Da Nang, Vietnam for a month by the beach which was lovely. I feel that being in a suny climate during the winter has also contributed to my health. I  walk a lot when it is warm and sometimes up to 10 kilometres a day. Movement is the second triad of being healthy. The third one is having peace of mind. They seem  to all flow into one another. If you eat healthy ,you feel like moving and if you move you feel rested and peaceful as you end up sleeping more soundly.

I fail to understand how people seem to put their health as there las priority and complain so much when their health fails them.

 

 

 

 

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Reflections in having pat downs at Immigration

Yesterday afternoon I returned from a two week stay with a friend in Maryland ,USA. I had been assisting her with another downsizing move.    I spend a lot of time  and money taking care of my health and I don’t want to jeopotize my health by unnecessary actions. My biggest concern in takin the trip was whether or not I would be allowed to have a pat down instead of going through a scanner that I was told gives you the equivalent radiation dose of 3 times that of an MRI. If I needed an MRi to assist me in a medical diagnosis I would have one ; but I see no reason to subject myself to harm at the whim of a security policy I feel is overkill. There are very few countries in the world who acutually use this technology. The only other country that I encountered was Holland at Amsterdam Airport. There , I requested a pat down and was politely and professionally given one.

I know a medical doctor works for the FDA . He also requests a pat down. When they tell him that the FDA says it is safe , he replies,”I work for the FDA. In a converstion with him he told me ,for the most part , the FDA does a fairly good job of protecting the public ; but a lot of politics and big business influence the agencies work.

In the line up I was a bit apprenhensive as to whether I would get my pat down or not , as their was a rumor that the new president had given the border guard permission to refuse a pat down. Previously, a request for a pat down cold not be refused.

I arrived at the conveyor belt ,but instead of throwing my luguage on the belt I went up and asked for a pat down. I was told to put my luguage on the belt and proceed through. In previous times , Ihad to wait perhaps ten minutes of so before someone could be found to pat me down. This time a wonderful man by the name of ,”Garcia” approached me and matter of fact told me about the procedure and then did the procedure in a professional manner without attitude. the worst type are the young white dudes who overcompensate for their insecurity.  I was very impressed with Mr. Garcia. I later told him that I was not trying to butter him up ,but he had just given me as a global traveler one of the best pat downs that I ever had.

One more observation. I was the only one who was having a pat down while I was there.

 

 

 

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Not all who wander are lost , Frodo.

Many,many decades ago stuck  on a farm in a small village I traveled the world vicariously-  in my imagination – through reading such authors as ,” Kim” by  Rudyard Kipling , magazines such as ,”Look” a , ” Life ” and National Geographic.  In 1967 I enrolled in a journalism program . By the time I finished in 1970 , both Look and Life had folded. Luckily for me , I had abandoned journalism or at least hard core journalism studies for a Liberal Arts program majoring in Psychology and English.  After graduation I continued studies in Psychotherapy and many forms of alternative healing modalities.

My first big trip in 1974 took me out of the  country to both Europe and Africa . I did East African studies at Humber College duing the winter. The summer studies was a month in Kenya and Tanzania via London ,England. I had been hired to document the trip for markeing purposes . It turned out to be a pivotal trip for me. I had never traveled with a group of people before in such an intense circumstances.

I learned a lot about myself , others and traveling in general on this trip. A lot of water has gone under the bridge in the interveening 43 years. Six months ago I spend my 27 th winter in Aisa, primarily in Chaing Mai, Thailand. I have wandered all over Europe and Asia ,but I keep returning to my beloved Chiang Mai. It’s like a living entity for me. Like a person it has many admirable qualities and a few warts . The most admirable qualites are the freindly people ,the safe space in  my Santinam community of healers , creative writers and seekers, the fresh tropical fruits and other culinary delights, the guaranteed warmth, the inexpensive amazing Thai massages (two hours for $12.00 Canadian , and inexpensive accomadations and organic vergetarian restaurants. Did I miss anything. The warts are the pollution and traffic and sometimes noise all by products of any so call sucessful city

Two months ago I spend a month in Da Nang, Vietnam. I had been to Hanoi and Saigon in 2009 for several weeks, but no where else in Vietnam. I was surprised to find out that Da Nang is the third biggest city in Vietnam and that a very fierce battle had been fought there during the Vietnam war. I took up a residence near  enough the beach  to view the white caps rolling in . There are many under tows there and the life guards are continously moving the red flags and cautioning people not to swim in many areas.

The loud sound of construction is  heard everywhere close to the beach and more and more facitlities are built for the tourist trade. Across one of the three bridges spanning a river ,the original town of Da Nang stands. It is a mixture of new buidlings and venues and many old narrow winding streets with buildings built during the French Colonial days. I actually met a young man who was an architect professor dividing his time between Hanoi and Georgetown, Washington. He had just given a lecture at the University next to the coffee shop we  found him  in . He told us that  he and his family did public projects ,but needed the work of  private projects to fund his public projects. He was one of two young men who I found interesting in Da Nang. The other young man I stumbled upon one day while in my favourite coffee shop in Da Nang. Although this young man had a PH.D in chemistry his passion was doing portrait photography. We met a number of times during my last two weeks in Da Nang. This young man rekindled my love for photograpy ,especially portrait photograhy  that I had had for since my teenage years into my late twenties.

Now , having returned to Toronto from my five months of winter stay in Asia , I slowly organizing my life around photography and writing.

Returing to the title of this article, “not all who  wander are lost”, I find  this so true in my forty three years of wandering the planet. I would call most travelers I meet ,”seekers”. Let’s say some seekers are closer to finding what they are searching for than others. In some cases, it appears that  some are hopelessly lost. Everyone’s journey is unique. The trick is to wish all well and concentrate on your own journey .  As, “The Wandering Therapist”,  I offer my services or advice to anyone who sincerely requests it.  Being in the enviable positon of being both  money rich and time rich I have no need to profit from my services. I do believe in the theory of karma  , “energetically what you put out comes back to you like a timely boomerang”.

I keep telling people, “that a good day for me is a day in which I have learned something new”. All my life I have been a sponge for new information.  The concept of being bored or depressed is alien to me.  Forget about never leaving home without an American Express Card as their ad shouted out for as long as I can remember , -I cancelled my $500.0 annual fee platium card recently when I realized I had not used it all year. It has great perks , if you take advantage of them. Back to the subject at hand. I never leave home without a book to read, a notebook to write in and name cards to share with  people I might meet with whom I have something in common.

As a traveler ,there are constant delays and long waits at airport and train startions. A book and a note book are a traveler’sbest friend unitl you stumble on a felllow traveler who is in the mood for chattin gand you have somethin in common to share.

 

 

 

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Arthur’s Happiness Project Continues

My apologies to any reader who have opened my blog and not found any new writings for many months.
Why now,you ask , am I returning to writing. There are most likely many reasons for not writing which are
rather personal in nature,but the reason for starting again is that I picked up my number eight book on happiness called,”Stumbling on Happiness”, by ,”Daniel Gilbert”. He begins the book by asking the question of how humans are different from all other living forms. His answer is that we can imagine the future. He goes through the theories put forth my psychologist and anthropologist on how humans are different such as humans being able to use tools,but apes or monkeys use a straw -rudimentary tool draw up ants for their meal. Squirrels store food for the winter ,but it is instinct he says not imagination of the future that squirrels hide nuts when the temperature drops to a certain temperature.
I shall let you know what I get out of this book when I finish it. The author makes a promise of being entertaining as well as informative and thus far has kept his promise making me laugh hilariously a number of times already.

Bertrand Russel in his book , “The Conquest of Happiness” written in 1930 writes ,” a person cannot attain happiness until the age of 30″. He says the reason for this is that by this time a person has finished his education ,gotten a job and perhaps begun a family”. How times have changed. Today, students in their early 30’s and much later struggle with massive debts of student loans. Has this become a new form of enslavement by the established power structure of how the few can control the many. Why has education become so expensive? Why are countries abandoning their youth in assisting them to be free independent adults. It appears it is more prevalent here in North America . I’m not sure what the scene is in Australia and New Zealand. In Asia , post high school education has always been on the expensive side.

One of the elements that has contributed to my happiness in the past 2 years is the introduction of a raw food diet and a year ago the Omgym or the flying yoga suspension system. I’m not a purist. I still enjoy steam vegetables, sprouted bread, sprouted rice, sprouted quinoa , oats and flax seeds cooked breakfasts.
The ,”Blendtec” blender is my best friend. Recently I began a bullet Proof Executive coffee drinker. In my experiment I found that ghee butter works well with my high quality ,”Kicking Horse” coffee beans.
Friends of mine are thanking me for introducing them to this manner of drinking cafe. All the taste of a good latte with no drawbacks-only a positive increase of mental clarity and energy without the jitters some people have with their second coffee cup of the day.

Releasing a two year relationship that no longer served me also contributed to my happiness. I became free to pursue woman with similar values and interests who could admire my best qualities and absorbed the effects of my human foibles which maybe are not so many -depending on whom you ask-but nevertheless , constitute the human condition.

Traveling, which brings me both great pleasure and happiness is being delayed a bit this year as I furnish a two bedroom apartment to rent.

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Arthur’s Happiness Project Continues

Happiness is a state of being. Pleasure is a feeling. In his book, “Happiness” , Mathew Ricard , the scientist turned Buddhist monk encourages us to embrace the tenets of the Buddhist philosophy to ensure our happiness state. One of the main tenets of Buddhist philosophy is that the lot of man is suffering. That is unless he has cast off the illusions of life , shed ignorance and become aware.
Looking around in any major city where I usually reside,the truth of this statement becomes evident. Most people do not know themselves. They neither know their weakness’s nor their strength. They are lost souls seeking satisfaction by pursuing a lifestyle in which they are programmed by many agencies of society and in a specific nefarious manner ,the advertising and marketing industry. They are constantly comparing their lives to the one that they should be having according to media influences. To be their true authentic selves and striving for their personal bests entirely escapes their consciousness.
Therefore, for the most part, they become their own worst enemies in the pursuit of happiness.
Knowing who they really are, their soul’s purpose eludes them. Perhaps if the countries in the world imitated the country of Bhutan and had ,”The Gross Happiness Index instead of of the the ,”Gross National Product as their goal more people would be happier.
In the eighties I read a book called,”The Way Of The Peaceful Warrior” by Dan Millman. His wise teacher said there were many ways of getting wealthy. He went on to say, “You could marry rich, you could rob a bank, you could work hard and save your money or you could control your desires”. This last statement impressed me at the time. This is what Mathieu Ricard suggests in his book. This requires discipline and being an independent thinker which is the opposite we in Western society are programmed. We are programmed to trust and obey authority in all its’ various forms.
The gap between the rich and poor is increasing every day.
This is the first time in history that young people have given up having the expectation that they will not be as wealthy or surpass their parents. They represent the highest group of unemployed people in the West. For every MBA making a six figure salary there are thousands of post high school graduates working as Barista at Starbucks and other Coffee shops and other minimum wage paying jobs.
Research shows that after attaining a minimum amount of wealth to allow you the freedom to do what you want ,when you want any additional wealth does not bring one any more happiness. The challenge at the moment is that young people often are scrambling to pay their rent, make payments on huge student loans and enjoy a lifestyle they previously had living with their parents without being in constant debt. It is impossible to do so being paid the minimum wage.
It is not only young people but many older people especially woman in retirement age suffer from the same fate.
It appears that many people are in a survival mode. How long can this continue in North American society. We have seen its” effect on the ,”PIGS”-Portugal, Italy,Greece and Spain. When will this unhappiness spread to North America or has it already?
The question one must ask oneself is ,”What is my passion, and what nurtures my soul”? For me ,it has been my work in healing,doing all I need to do to keep myself healthy in body, mind and spirit, good friendships, classical music, travelling , reading and writing.

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Arthur’s Happiness Project Continues

Most people aspire to be,”Happy” most of the time. It seems to be an inborn soul need-reaching out for that quality of life that as a culture we define as happiness.
As a global traveller I have met many people from various cultures. If you ask a farmer his idea of happiness it would be favourable weather for a good yield for his harvest.
It all depends on whom you ask what the answer might be.
For me ,it is that state of being in which I enjoy abundant health, the company of good friends, a faithful ,loving companion, the ability to decide every day what I shall do with my time and creative energies, to be free from having to make money and having enough of it to live a healthy life style and to travel when and where I wish. Yes, to replenish my ward robe from time to time, to give to friends as the opportunity arises.
I have worked and indeed live with many miserable millionaires. This does not mean that all millionaires are unhappy and miserable. I’ve encountered many miserable poor and homeless people and I have also encountered happy poor people.
Most people will agree that it is easier to be happy if you have a certain level of income every month in which to take care of your basic needs and some left over to enjoy life’s pleasures.
It seems that many people fall on one side of the fence or the other side of the fence when it comes to being happy and having the time to enjoy it. I have observed that many rich people are stressed with little time to enjoy their money and the people I have encountered with a lot of time had did not have any money to enjoy it.

I remember , having lunch with the owner of an investment company in London at a lovely country side inn in Northern France. After, several bottles of good French wine were drank-mostly by him- he lamented-, “I’m time poor, I have not had time in the past two years to visit my nice home here in France”. He must have continued being time poor as he sold this house to a mutual friend six months later.
After this incident, I dubbed myself time rich. I more or less retired at age 46. That is when I burned out. I took an indefinite period of time off , boarded a plane and landed in Bangkok Thailand. My plan was to go to India for a while then onto Japan where I would teach English with my newly acquired ESL Diploma.

Well, after six weeks life stirred. I cancelled my Air France flight to Mumbai and stayed in Thailand for three months before returning to Toronto. I have wintered in Asia for the past 23 winters. I’m staying home this year for personal reasons which I may disclose in later posts.

I propose that one strives to have harmony between both-enough money and time to live a life of their choosing.

This brings me to the idea that happiness is a choice. This is the one sentence that was meaningful in a book by the British psychologist , Dr. Robert Holden.

Indeed , in the midsts of examining the theories of many authors , this is the cornerstone of being happy-making a choice in your best interest of course. Not making a choice is making a choice. It is living your life by default -allowing others decide you fate instead of making decisions that will serve your happiness as it were.

Take the example of exercising and eating healthy food or getting enough sleep every night. If you don’t eat healthy food ,you will have a condition of ,”dis-ease”. The same thing with lack of exercise. If you don;t move you will feel heavy ,sluggish, and tired as you put on more and more weight.

One of the most astonishing experiences I have had over the year working as a body-psychotherapist is that people experience themselves as not having permission to ask and have what they truly desire. I feel this is the result of our early conditioning by the various social agents in our lives – our parents, the school, the church, the government and the media.

Most people grow up not knowing who they are and what they desire in life. I’m finding this true of young people leaving school and not knowing what direction to take with their lives.
Somewhere along the line they didn’t acquire or lost a sense of passion in their lives. My bet that their early passions were programmed out of them by some agent outside of them. They didn’t feel their passion , vision was realistic , possible so they gave up on them.

I read that ,Sir Walpole said that , , “luck favours those who are most prepared.”

This is the thread I will pick up in my next post.

I welcome any feedback, additions and comments from readers.

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Not in Chiang Mai this year . First time in 23 years

After enduring a five month renovation project that ended before Christmas, I decided to stay in Toronto for the winter. It isn’t that I like Toronto more than Chiang Mai, it is that it seems to suit my purpose more to be here in Toronto at this time. I wanted to enjoy my new space after enduing great discomfort for months while it was totally torn apart and rebuild. I’ve been running away from winter ,the cold and I made a decision to embrace it this winter. My only challenge is several grey days in a row.
One of my goals this winter is to begin a regular writing program. My new space provides the ideal environment to do this-it is warm , comfortable and sunlight when the sun is shining. My newly renovated kitchen is a treat to prepare food in. I say prepare because I became a raw food eater about 15 months ago.
I was introduced to it by my partner. I’m thriving on it in terms of renewed energy and losing weight in all the places I had always wanted to let it go, mainly, the waist and the small but evident love handles.
Even more than enjoying a better fit in clothing ,it is the new energy it gives me, that I enjoy the most.

I’m glad I didn’t go to Thailand in early November -my usual departure date.My friends have reported that it has been down right cold for the first time in decades in Chiang Mai. This applies to the night temperature.
It is a big problem because all the housing is geared for air conditioning ,not heating. It doesn’t help that the concept of insulation is foreign to Asia-at least all the countries -except ,Korea that I have traveled to.
I believe that this period has more of less passed.

Will I give in to Cabin Fever in the next two months? Time will tell.

A healthy and wealthy 2014 to all.

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Arthur’s Happiness Project Continues

This summer I began a major renovation project in the apartment I live in Toronto. The result is a cozy beautiful warm nest to spend the winter if I choose. For the past 23 winters I have flown to Asia ,primarily ,Chiang Mai ,Thailand in the Fall or early
In the new year and returned in April to do and pay my fair share of taxes to the Canadian government! The government decides what is fair not me.
Last year this time I had been living in Thailand for a couple of weeks already. This year I have no firm plans.

I’m happy living and designing the interior of my newly renovated space-new insulated walls,ceiling and a new honey oak floor make me want to spend time in the space experiencing how I want it to be furnished. I threw out all the old furnishings and I’m starting from scratch.

Not quickly jumping on a plane is also part of my new Happiness project -living a life by design not default.
I turned 69 last week. I experience myself asp rather ageless as in many ways I feel younger now than when I was 19.
This has a lot to do with the fact that I have been fortunate to do
Therapy with a number of good therapists-both physical and psychological therapies that have released bands of tension that freed me in such a m annex that I actually have more freedom of movement than when I was 19.
I feel comfortable with myself and quite enjoy my own company usually in silence but sometimes I enjoy classical music to further nurture my soul.

Lately, I have read a number of good postings in the App , “Lifehacker”. I concur with their writings on Happiness.

Happiness is a choice. Choose wisely.

The Wandering Therapist

Arthur j. Poirier

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Living by Design or by Default-

I recently came across two quotes that I had found in the past and jotted down on a piece of paper.
The first quote was ,”You are either affecting people or infecting people.
The second quote was ,” You are either living by design or living by default”.

The meaning of the first one appears quite evident, “You are either influencing someone in a positive manner or you are influencing them in a negative manner.

It’s the second quote. Living by Design or Default ” that interests me at the moment or should I say seems to suddenly become more relevant in my life.

In some ways, like many other well meaning person , parts of my life are lived by design and parts are lived by default.

As I approach my seventh decade-where did the time go- I find that in general that I have more or less lived a life of design.

Being self -employed I bought a small apartment building nearly 30 years ago knowing that at some point I would wish to retire or at least have the choice to work or not to work.

I meet so many people approaching 60 who had not made plans in the past and now financial security is a grave concern.

I also designed my life with the goal of having optimum health in mind. With a blood pressure of 100/70 on average and a resting pulse of 58 with a lean body weight I feel rather healthy. I have no pains or aches as I wake up in the morning unlike the majority of people my age.

I have made health a priority in my life. The ability to handle stress became important, educating myself on what to eat, exercising -walking running, yoga, Tai Chi, Chi Kung, cycling and “The Wand” became my activities during my life time.

I came a quote once, “Saints are only Sinners who kept trying. Well , it seems that living a life of design rather than default is similar. There have been times that I did not eat as well as I could, but it was the best I knew at the time. As I became older , organized exercised seemed to have fallen by the way side. Attending weekly yoga was easier when my wife was alive.I can testify that the buddy system in exercise does work .

Recently , I moved up a notch in diet design with the inclusion of mostly raw food. I do not call my self a raw food eater as such. I abhor labels. I eat whole uncontaminated food. I do have some cooked food and I eat grass fed beef but mostly I drink a lot of different juices made by my trusty,” Blendtec”. The best place to buy it is ,”Costco”.
Without increasing my exercise program , I have loss inches on my waist and gain a leanness that I’m very pleased with.
Dear Reader if you are interested in Raw Food eating you can go on Y-Tube and listen to David Wolfe- one of the top reigning gurus of Raw Food at the moment.
You could also check out ,”Dr. Gabriel Cousens, M.D. who has been a pioneer in the field for quite some time now.
If you live in Toronto ,Canada or nearby he is lecturing at OISE at 252 Bloor ST W. on August 9th. Phone 416-617-3096 for tickets. You can also check , www.upayanaturals.com for more information. These folks have some of the most amazing Super Food products and they have fast delivery.

Because traveling is my passion and I shall more than likely head for the Far East again this winter to my mountain top , Chiang Mai, Thailand , I’m in the process of stream lining my life so that everything will run smoothly when I’m not in Toronto this winter basking in the sun and eating healthy permaculture ,organic food.

Shit happens no matter what one does but I think it is possible to minimize the amount of manure we spread in our lives by living a life of design and not one of default.

Happy Design living my dear reader.

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