Jacob Nordby's Blog

September 13, 2017

3 Critical Lessons About Modern Life from The Walking Dead


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I am an unlikely fan of The Walking Dead. I don’t like zombie stuff and I don’t like horror. But this one is different.


The Walking Dead has escaped both genres and has climbed to the stature of a modern myth. It has important lessons to teach us all—relevant things, practical things, and uncomfortable (but potentially inspiring) things. I have been transfixed by this tale since Season 1/Episode 1.


I don’t usually watch television or movies to pick their bones for metaphors and lessons. Most often, I just curl up after a long day and let a great story carry me to faraway places. 


But this one is different. Here’s why. Here are three lessons for us modern humans that we can’t afford to ignore:


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1. It’s not about the zombies 


After the first several episodes that set the stage on which the rest of this story could play, the zombies weren’t the real problem. They are a symptom. They are victims of the real problem. They provide the physical evidence of the plague—the insatiable teeth and rotting fingers—that makes the real problem something that can’t be ignored. 


The real problem is our fear. A pandemic of numbness that has swept our world and is eating away our brains and our will to live. It’s what makes us believe that being truly alive isn’t possible anymore—that standing up and carving out something real can’t be done. It tells us millions of lies every day. It says that the world is too big, fast, and overwhelming. It says that we can’t handle the stress and anxiety, much less do anything that will make a difference. It makes us afraid to try.


Like Rick and Michonne and Carl and the other heroes of this story, we face a world full of zombies. These are people who have given up and are dragging themselves along without any life. They aren’t the problem, though. The problem is fear that makes us give up hope. Fear that devours our creativity and makes us believe that nothing is worth it anymore.


We also face people like Negan who prey on our fears. They seek power by making us believe that cruelty and selfishness are the new virtues and the only solutions for a world gone crazy. These bullies try to make us believe that love can’t win and that we need their guns, greed, walls, and heavy boots to keep us safe. They aren’t the problem. We must deal with them, but the real problems are the numbness and fear that give them power.


Many people believe that there are only two choices—to be a zombie or a bully. That’s not true. There’s a third choice. We can be creative warriors. We can take the power back. 


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2). This is personal and it’s not optional


Like all reluctant heroes in great myths, the brave souls in The Walking Dead didn’t set out to lead or make a name for themselves. They were torn out of their comfortable lives by The Real Problem. They didn’t like it and throughout the series, they sometimes tried to run and hide. Sometimes they came close to saying, “This is other people’s problem.”


All reluctant heroes face a challenge and a call to action, though. It’s when the battle is no longer a distant thing that they can ignore. It becomes personal. It becomes about whether or not they can stand up for their own beliefs. When that happens, stand the hell aside. Shit’s about to get real. 


Shit has gotten real. Look around us. It’s no longer possible to ignore. Things we used to believe only happen “over there” or in the long-ago cruel history of our race are now current events, and they are happening in the streets of our own cities.


Despair is so seductive. It whispers things like, “You can’t do anything about hurricanes and nuclear threats and political bullies. You can’t even lose twenty pounds and clean your fridge and help your kids be good humans. Just look away.” When it says these things, they sound true. But they are lies. There are solutions and all of them start in some small, personal way.


Creativity can’t live in a little box over there that’s labeled, “Oh that’s nice.” It’s not optional. Why? See #3.


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3). Life matters. Creativity matters


This is where it all comes together. Life and creativity are inseparable. (I’m growing tired of the word “creativity” much like “authenticity.” I don’t know a better word yet, but this one’s wearing thin from overuse.) Creativity is the ability to figure things out. It is the ability to come up with solutions. Creativity fuels the quest to speak our inner truths and won’t let us rest until we’ve done it. Creativity is how life solves the problem of being itself. It’s how we do, too.


Life, in the face of all the rot and stench and death, keeps finding a way to be itself—irrepressible and gorgeous and painful and… life. As it births more of itself, Life gives us art, and stories, and the warmth of dinners with family, and love affairs, and babies, and hot tears that spill down our cheeks when something true happens, and meaningful friendships, and real, satisfying work that serves the world.


Life keeps giving us reasons to live.


At the end of TWD Season 7, Michonne whispered through swollen, bloody lips, “We… win.” She and all the rest had been fighting (against insane odds) not for power or to get more stuff, but for the simple reason that giving up meant that life was no longer worth dying for.


When they decided that living was worth it, Life took over and helped them figure things out. That’s what life does. It waits to help those who make the decision. Every single real problem in our real lives requires a creative solution.


For years I have taught a course called Creative UnBootcamp. For a long time, even though it was satisfying to help aspiring writers get started, I didn’t make the connection to what I’ve written here today. I was incredibly reluctant to make it a broader course because I was afraid that it would end up being some kind of fluffy, feel-good thing—but would still occupy an “Oh that’s nice” box in people’s heads.


Now I have come to see that “creative recovery” isn’t optional for any of us who care about life. It’s about standing up, clearing a path, and taking our own lives back. It is about reconnecting with the energy that fuels our art, and work, and everything that matters.


The action of doing that makes room for our own vital natures to revive and breathe. When our creative selves can breathe, everything starts to happen. We find solutions, we get rid of what’s old and dead. We find our own beating hearts again. We make a difference in the world by being alive this way.


Creative UnBootcamp isn’t your solution. You are. But it might be a start. It might help you hear the drum of your own heart and find new energy to be the creative warrior you were meant to be.


Click here to learn more about the creative revolution


We need you. Life needs you. You need you. This is a call to arms. 


 



 


Jacob Nordby is a writer from Boise, Idaho. He is the author of  Blessed Are the Weird – A Manifesto for Creatives. He leads a worldwide conversation on social media via his Facebook author page and Blessed Are the Weird community page. He is the founder and teacher of the Creative UnBootcamp—a Course for Creative Recovery.


 



 


 


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Published on September 13, 2017 11:17

February 11, 2017

What Is The American Dream


I have had an uneasy relationship with America for almost a decade. Before that I was as flag-waving as anyone else, and more than most.


That changed when I began to see a world without borders. I spent some years feeling that we would be a lot better off as a species if we could live together on this round planet without all the artificial lines of nationalism to divide us.


I am also gut-sick over what the ethos of America has become. We have strayed, it seems, from the rugged, creative, dynamic spirit which inspired people from around the world to land on these shores and start something from scratch. Instead, we have slouched our way into believing that being Americans means an entitlement to being the biggest (and I do mean biggest in every way–just look at the average waistline on this continent), most badass consumers on the planet. Somehow we have come to believe that we have a right to scarf down every resource in sight to fuel our lifestyle.


Couple that with a long, honest look back at how we occupied the territory now known as America and it is hard to avoid feeling shame about the atrocities and genocides we committed along the way.


We haven’t stopped committing atrocities in the name of our most holy America, either. We are doing it in different places around the world right now. Some of our transgressions are sins of commission. Others are sins of omission. 


We wave the flag, drop bombs and cheer for ourselves. Our constant quest for more resources and more control creates imbalances and power vacuums that cause tremendous misery in real people’s lives around the world. We ignore them.


The most unconscious of us yell some equivalent of, “‘Merica…fuck yeah!” whenever we prove that we are God’s chosen people to reign over the earth. I get sick when people talk about how “…our boys are over there defending our freedom,” when what they are really doing is engaging in corporate warfare. I don’t question the heroism and loyalty of our soldiers, but I can’t handle the blind nationalism which keeps us believing that we are doing something honorable and prideworthy most of the time.


All of that being said, and as disheartening as it can be, I am convinced there is a lot more to the story.


In my search to find out if there was anything worth saving about America, I learned a lot about human nature and about the magnificent intentions of those who designed the foundation for this country.


First, the fact is that humans have not yet evolved past the need for boundaries and national identities. We just haven’t. We are headed that direction, but it is a horizon we have not yet reached. To pretend otherwise is to argue with reality.


Second, those who drafted the blueprint for America were imperfect from our two-hundred-years-later perspective. They owned slaves, approved slaughters and did otherwise horrible things from our current vantage point. That does not diminish the fact that they helped start the most ambitious experiment in human history. In their times, they were the most progressive thinkers around.


This land of ours is a laboratory. We are all involved in adding chemicals, turning up the heat under test tubes and otherwise messing around to see if a theory called Human Freedom can be viable.


The spirit of America is not a license to live like great alimentary canals with mouths full of teeth, mindlessly chewing up luxuries and gorging ourselves on shiny lifestyles at the expense of the world, then stomping on anyone who protests. That is a direct violation of what our founders meant to create when they signed their names, lives and sacred honor to a document which declares, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”



From where I sit, holding an American passport is like carrying orders that read, “I am an American. I have a responsibility to use the mind-boggling freedom and riches in ways that will honor the creator potential in all humans. I have been given opportunities to live my life in peace and safety, with all the resources I need to craft a magnificent life. It is my job to prove myself worthy of this and to treat the rest of the world with humility, respect and honor as they also seek to gain the freedoms which come so easily to me. I have a sacred duty to live in joy and spread the possibility of this wealth for the benefit of everyone everywhere.”



The American dream is beautiful when it wakes us from our sleep and reminds us that we are living, breathing participants in the greatest social experiment ever.


How will the world and our own lives appear if we pursue happiness with responsibility and the full understanding of exactly how amazing all of this is?



 



Jacob Nordby is an award winning novelist, essayist, and podcast host. He is the author of the new release, Blessed Are the Weird – A Manifesto for Creatives. He leads a worldwide conversation on social media via his Facebook author page and Blessed Are the Weird community page. He is the founder and teacher of the Creative UnBootcamp online course for writers (and those who want to be), and founder of the indie press Manifesto Publishing House.



Click here to find Blessed Are the Weird on Amazon


Click here to download a free extended excerpt!


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Published on February 11, 2017 22:22

February 8, 2017

11 Ways To Deflate Voldemort


 


 


Not long ago, my teenaged twins and I did a catch up marathon and watched all of the last few Harry Potter movies. In the final part of that amazing series, Dumbledore was driven out of Hogwarts (killed), Voldemort’s faithful had formed a cabal of pure evil that began to exert control over the good wizards and stamp out their ability to do magic, and Harry Potter had fallen under deep suspicion—along with his friends.


Does this sound maybe a little bit familiar?


I was driving somewhere this morning after dropping my daughter off at school and started thinking about what I can possibly do to make a difference in the current situation here at Hogwarts.


If you’re at all like me, you may feel distressed and unsure about what to DO right now.  


I began composing this post in my head while I sipped coffee. 


Not entirely sure how to be crystal clear about the points I wanted to make, I decided to keep it all in the creative crockpot until it had cooked more thoroughly.


As fortune would have it, my friend Wendie Green (AKA Wendie Gone Feral) posted the following perfect list of instructions on Facebook:


1. Don’t use his name;

2. Remember this is a regime and he’s not acting alone;

3. Do not argue with those who support him–it doesn’t work;

4. Focus on his policies, not his orange-ness and mental state;

5. Keep your message positive; they want the country to be angry and fearful because this is the soil from which their darkest policies will grow;

6. No more helpless/hopeless talk;

7. Support artists and the arts;

8. Be careful not to spread fake news. Check it;

9. Take care of yourselves; and

10. Resist!


Keep demonstrations peaceful. In the words of John Lennon, “When it gets down to having to use violence, then you are playing the system’s game. The establishment will irritate you – pull your beard, flick your face – to make you fight! Because once they’ve got you violent, then they know how to handle you. The only thing they don’t know how to handle is non-violence and humor.”


When you post or talk about him, don’t assign his actions to him, assign them to “The Republican Administration,” or “The Republicans.” This will have several effects: the Republican legislators will either have to take responsibility for their association with him or stand up for what some of them don’t like; he will not get the focus of attention he craves; Republican representatives will become very concerned about their re-elections.


The point John Lennon makes is so critical. Humor.


Remember the little boy who laughed out loud when the emperor paraded down the boulevard wearing only imaginary clothes?


“Hehehe, the Emperor is naked!” shouted the little boy. All the extremely serious (and afraid) adults around him were horrified. But he just kept laughing and pointing. Before long others joined him. The fear (and the Emperor’s power) evaporated.


Laughter is the equivalent of Dorothy tossing a pail of water on the Wicked Witch of the West. 


Laughter is the great antidote for stupidity, self importance, and other forms of arrogance. Yes, we live in serious times, but it’s important to remember that joy is power. 


I wrote this a few days ago


It’s time…

Yes it is


It’s time to get serious about joy

Time to get ruthless about cutting what’s stupid and dead from our lives

So what’s real and green and alive

Can grow

Again


It’s time

For the winter of our discontent

To wake up slowly

Stretch and shake itself

With yawning, happy

Rage


It’s time

Yes it is

To light a match

A candle

A bonfire

Some kind of flame

And take back life

From what’s not living.


Oh yes

It is


I am reminded that when I give my attention to something or someone, I am giving them my energy. Energy is power.


The way to deflate Voldemort—the way to take away his power—is to focus attention away from him entirely. No, I’m not suggesting that you or I ignore current events. I am saying that we can create our own current events. Every shred of attention or energy I give to “Voldemort” subtracts from what I can use for my own creations.


What do you want to create?


Feel free to tell me about that in the comments section below



 



Jacob Nordby is an award winning novelist, essayist, and podcast host. He is the author of the new release, Blessed Are the Weird – A Manifesto for Creatives. He leads a worldwide conversation on social media via his Facebook author page and Blessed Are the Weird community page. He is the founder and teacher of the Creative UnBootcamp online course for writers (and those who want to be), and founder of the indie press Manifesto Publishing House.



Click here to find Blessed Are the Weird on Amazon


Click here to download a free extended excerpt!


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Published on February 08, 2017 09:59

January 30, 2017

Calling All Reluctant Heroes

 


I’m sitting here in a warm coffee shop on a Monday morning while my hometown of Boise, Idaho wakes up. It’s cold outside but this place is comfortable and friendly.


It’s hard for me to believe that just outside these doors and across the “sweet land of liberty” known as America there is a ferocious war going on. This is a battle for our collective soul. It’s a great question that we are struggling to answer about who we really are and if we are willing to step out of comfort zones to prove it.


Truth is, I hate war. War is stupid. War leaves wreckage behind it. I want no part of the battle that pits families and friends against each other and spills their blood on the soil.


I’m reluctant to say anything. I have achieved a comfortable recluse status and I enjoy my life of writing and teaching and nature and friends and thinking. If I stand and pick up my sword to fight—to speak out about right and wrong—I know what it will mean. It will mean the end of comfortable neutrality.


Know what I mean?


In the Blessed Are the Weird book, I wrote a chapter titled “Misfits”. Here’s a paragraph that is taking on new meaning for me:


One of the primary archetypes in many legends is the Reluctant Hero. A reluctant hero is an ordinary man or woman—usually with a great wound or chaotic past that makes them resistant to any idea that they might be worthy to perform acts of heroism or service. During the tale, they are called into action against their protests. They rise to the occasion, and although they are often beaten and bloody by the story’s end, they avenge a wrong or vanquish a foe. They often deal with inner demons, weaknesses, and doubts about whether or not they will succeed in their mission. Their misgivings, insecurities, and general ordinariness allow us to identify with them and believe that perhaps we, too, might be heroes-in-waiting.


What I’m suggesting here is that you and I are being called out of our comfort to be the heroes we’ve been waiting for.


This is actually our time. Right now.


But if that’s true, what can we do?  If you are at all like me, you can have your heart stirred by burning rhetoric and then go home later and wonder, “Now what?”


I can’t sit here and write out a policy prescription that will fix the broken mess that we face. I’m not a politician and generally loathe political discussions because it means expending tremendous energy on a cynical game when the real action is happening somewhere else, behind the scenes.


I do know that sitting comfortably on the sidelines is no longer an option. I do know that sharing political memes isn’t enough. Having outraged conversations with likeminded friends won’t do the trick.


Truth is, I don’t want to mess with it. I’m mostly libertarian—live and let live. Know what I mean?


The trouble right now is that we have to “mess with it.”


This brings to mind an exchange between Frodo and Gandalf in Lord of the Rings:


“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”



This isn’t happening in some other place or time. It’s now. It’s here.


For me, this is not a political issue. It’s not Democrat or Republican, Left or Right. It’s not Hillary or Trump. 


This is a human problem.


We are asking ourselves whether or not we have learned any goddamned thing over the last twenty or thirty thousand years—anything at all.


The truth is, the world wants its soul back.


A great and deadly menace has arrived at the borders of Middle Earth.


The only way to stand up against the tsunami of fear and soullessness is to get radically clear about the most basic things that make us human, and then refuse to take any action that violates our birthright.


It’s lovely to live in our version of Tolkein’s Shire; enjoying a way of life that is envied by the rest of the world, sleeping peacefully in our beds at night, sipping lattes at Starbucks, and letting the people “over there” deal with their problems.


But our time is calling for heroes—quiet, reluctant, peace-loving heroes—to stand up and decide. We have to decide what it means to have a soul.


Many of us say that we believe in love. We hum along when John Lennon sings “…imagine all the people, sharing all the world… yoohooo-ooooo.” We want the world to be a better place.


Now it’s time to prove that we want that more than our own comfort.


“But how?” I can hear everyone who cares asking, “How?”


I don’t know, but I do know that we have to ask that question over and over again until “what” and “how” becomes clear.


If you are hearing this call to stand up, rather than just throwing up your hands at the enormity of what we face, please join me in asking “What makes me human? What do I love? What will I never give up? What requires me to say ‘no!’?  What shall I do?”


Ask it over and over again until the shape of right action emerges from the smoke and fog of war—until we know for sure what must be done.


You are a hero-in-waiting. You and I were born in such times and now is when we can choose to shine.


As Tolkein said in the voice of the wise old wizard Gandalf, “Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.”


 



 



Jacob Nordby is an award winning novelist, essayist, and podcast host. He is the author of the new release, Blessed Are the Weird – A Manifesto for Creatives. He leads a worldwide conversation on social media via his Facebook author page and Blessed Are the Weird community page. He is the founder and teacher of the Creative UnBootcamp online course for writers (and those who want to be), and founder of the indie press Manifesto Publishing House.



Click here to find Blessed Are the Weird on Amazon

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Published on January 30, 2017 14:07

November 28, 2016

Porous to Life

I only know one way to keep or regain a passion for life.
The word is porous.

Porous 


Permeable


Able to be penetrated by


Capable of being drenched all the way through


Vulnerable


There are as many ways of living as there are humans, but there are two main ways of being which determine how much we can absorb of this thing called life:


Open or Closed.


You and I, well, here we are. We were born naked and shivering. I was and so were you. Tabulae rasa–soft, fragile blank slates. We had no choice except to experience everything.


At first we screamed and pooped and crawled around and stuck our fingers into wall sockets, potted plants, ant hills, and that jar of delicious face cream on mother’s vanity stand in the bedroom. We crayoned walls and family heirlooms, we stripped out of our diapers and wandered around the front yard delighted by the grass tickling our naked skin.


Before long, though, we learned. We ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and nothing could ever be the same again. One bite at a time we discovered how unsafe it was to be a walking, talking experiencer-of-everything.


Remember the time you were jumping around, telling a story and suddenly noticed that they weren’t looking at you? Their eyes were glassing over and maybe you caught the shake of a head or a cruel little laugh barely veiled.


But you learned. Oh, yes you did, and so did I.


And in the learning, began to close the portals of ourselves. One at a time, in subtle, quiet ways, we plugged those chinks in the armor.


The armor was heavy but it was safe inside there. We learned how to block out experiences and how to numb ourselves against pain and fear.


You’ve seen them, these armored souls. They grow shells of spirituality or cynicism or optimism or whatever other -ity or -ism they use to keep out the freezing rains of life. 


You know them because you can only ever talk to the outside of this shell. You ask a question. Something curious, an invitation to tell you something true. What you get in return is a mantra–a memorized phrase designed to fend off your thrust of interest. It can appear so beautiful, too. An elegant, sugarcoated,wise-sounding response is often as much a shield as anything hard or brutal might be.


We can’t blame them or ourselves for cladding the tender, passionate spirit of us in this way, either. Though it limits our movement, this unporous armor keeps out the badness of life–helps us feel safe enough to get out of bed and mingle with those terrifying others out there.


But it’s no way to live. If someone told you that they would keep you safe, feed you every day and be sure that nothing would alarm you so long as you would agree to live inside a prison cell with only that one high barred window showing a patch of sky, would you do it?


Probably not.


Because what is a life of safety if it means cutting off our senses? Would you cut off your arms to guarantee that you’d never be burned or put out your eyes to be sure that you could not see ugliness?


But this is what we do to our spirits in tiny, invisible ways every day when we choose Closed instead of Open.


So what does it mean to live porously?



It means remembering to (as often as possible) unbuckle the armor and step out of it into naked experience.
Look strangers in the eye.
Say that honest thing which has been hiding inside but, if said, will set you free.
Speak a non-rhyming, spontaneous poem at the sunrise.
Read a book which goes exactly opposite of all your beliefs.
Stand on the ridge of a hill and let the wind blast your face, then imagine that your body isn’t a solid block but able to let everything blow through.
Risk loving deeply.
Do something uncalculated and stay absolutely curious because that intense, passionate child living inside you just wants to know what happens next.

Oh, and much more important than any list of ideas I might offer, the main thing is to take this moment–the one right here–and swan dive into it without looking first.


Just ask, “What feeling is this?” then say, “Oh, hello Feeling. Tell me all about yourself. I know you won’t stay here long but you have so much to teach me.”


In the real world, I’ve learned to notice my body and the signals it sends. If I sense my jaw clench or my body contract, that’s a sign to remind me that I’m closing down on something which hurts or I am afraid to feel. This reminds me to take a deep breath, and open my body and mind to whatever has showed up in this moment. Opening, opening, opening…again and again. Body, mind and spirit.


And what is the payoff for living like this? There must be some great reward or it wouldn’t be worth the risk.


The reward is death.


Death of boredom. Death of fear. Death of that petrified shell which keeps everything and everyone out. Death of what is not alive. Death of cynicism. Death of death.


And when you, I, we begin to live this way, we change the world. Because the world is begging for change, but not merely for change’s sake. It wants to remember. It wants to recover what came before the first bite of that fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. It wants to know that it can use all the experiences and learnings but somehow regain its senses.


Don’t do it for the world, though. That’s too big, too much to ask. Do it for yourself. Do it for your children. Do it because there’s no other way to “…live deep and suck out all the marrow of life”.


The only real question any of us must ask if we wish to live in this way is, “can I keep opening myself to myself again and again, as long as I live?”


You know porous people as soon as you meet them. It isn’t that they are always nice, or make you feel good. The thing is, they’re real. They’ll look in your eyes and ask you an honest question. They are quick to laugh at themselves. They are raw, they listen, they watch. They have courage to get up in the morning and do what must be done whether they feel like it or not. They go all in. They try things. They fail faster. If you are reading this, you are probably one of those people.



 


“You can’t know this right now, but…

your ragged, rugged honesty…

your crazy, passionate, naked vulnerability…

your trusting plunge into the unknown of Life at every turn…

your journey of love and healing…

these change your world, the world of those around you and the world as a whole.

Someday you’ll know how important you are.”


 



 


jacob-nordbyJacob Nordby is a storyteller, thinker, and adventure seeker whose many quests have led him to a deep fascination with life in all of its weird splendor. He has written the award winning novel, The Divine Arsonist, and a non-fiction title, Blessed Are the Weird – A Manifesto for Creatives.


He is the founder of the independent Manifesto Publishing House. Jacob lives and works in Boise, Idaho where he is now actively plotting new novels.


He really hates writing bios.


He loves life.





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Published on November 28, 2016 12:57

October 30, 2016

Irreducible

Irreducible

by Jacob Nordby


What’s left of me cannot be reduced any further.


This lump in my throat, this ache in my heart. The irreducible emptiness in bed next to me. This love and everything that I am and always have been, but am now carved down to the essentials of it.


I’m naked. Irreducible. Can’t take any more clothes off. Exposed. I walk around in the world this way, behind a swaddle of the things I hide behind. A smile, my shoulders square, facing the wind and sun.


My eyes. Irreducible.


Inexorable in asking everything.


Why?


Who are you?


What’s left here?


This beauty and everything, the breathing and talking.


What’s left of me is irreducible. 


That means it is strong.


That means that I am walking on the ground with these bare feet, feeling the good earth and the sharp gravel and grass. 


Strong. Simple. Distilled. Lacking the fluff, the small talk, the layer of static that makes everyone comfortable.


And I woke up at 3 am again but couldn’t sleep, which is how it sometimes is and I don’t mind, really, if I can find something to enjoy at an hour like this that won’t also destroy me. 


So I watched the first episode of the last season of Rectify. That beautiful show about a man who lost himself in solitary confinement for twenty years and is now trying to find a way, a place, a self in this world.


He’s living in a halfway house this season. Far from home. Banished from his native state. The man who runs the home is Ray.


I won’t try to tell the whole story here but you can read a pretty good write up about it in this other person’s article on Culturess.com.


But Ray catches Daniel coming back in from a devastatingly awkward day in the world. He won’t let Daniel slip away into his room. Not yet. They need to talk.


Daniel resists. No one could possibly understand him, he thinks. He has suffered the loss of self so deeply in the traumas of his past that he doesn’t have any idea who he is—at least not in the easy, seamless way that most people unreflectively see themselves.


rayIn fact, accused of a crime that he most likely did not commit (that question, itself, is part of the tension that this series delivers so well) and locked in a solitary confinement death row cell since his teen years, he isn’t even sure whether he did or did not murder the girl. Isn’t sure about his own mind and what it is telling him. Isn’t sure if maybe he has accepted the story about himself that others, with their own agendas, have told him.


Ray asks the devastating question, “Do you deserve to live?”


danielDaniel just shakes his head, looks away, tears now running down his cheeks.


Ray doesn’t stop. “After all you’ve been through. After all that punishment. After all that suffering. Your one life. Do you deserve to live it? And just because you don’t remember or know for sure whether you killed that girl or not… that doesn’t mean you did it, either. Right?”


Daniel gives a tiny, reluctant nod.


“Maybe you ought to lean the other way for awhile. That you didn’t do it,” Ray says.


He closes, “This may sound hokey as shit, but… you gotta figure out some way to love yourself.”


And that is the irreducible truth. Right there.


You gotta figure out some way to love yourself. You gotta figure out some way to forgive—and be forgiven, too. You gotta figure out some way to believe that maybe you are innocent and deserve a place in this world.


And there’s no possible way that can happen without the terrible process of reduction that scrapes and burns everything away down to the charred bones of our souls; down to the living, solid realization that we are, in fact, real. That we cannot be reduced away. That we are here and deserve to be. That we belong.


I do.


You do.


We do. We deserve to live this life. Live it well. Live it as the art it can be. Live it with radical love and with the roots of us digging deeply into the soil of life and being nourished by it.


Whatever we have done to get here (to this moment); whatever coping or covering or flinching or running we’ve done to survive… we deserve healing. We deserve to forgive ourselves. We deserve to live.


You can’t be reduced to a set of facts and stats on a sheet about your life. You are not the sum of your mistakes. You are not an equation that must forever work out the balance of painful karma. None of us is.


We deserve laughter and love and the thunder roll heartbeat of knowing for sure that we are doing it all the way.


That is the irreducible truth.



 


jacobriverJacob Nordby lives in Boise, Idaho.


He is the creator of Blessed Are the Weird and author of the newly released book by that name.


Visit BlessedAreTheWeird.com to connect with the tribe and read the new book sample chapters.

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Published on October 30, 2016 04:54

October 9, 2016

Hello world!

Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start writing!

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Published on October 09, 2016 17:11

July 14, 2016

Satan admits to getting worn out and “not evil enough anymore.” Endorses both Trump and Hillary for President

BREAKING: Satan announces retirement. Endorses both Trump and Hillary for President.

hillary-trump

 

 

In a recent interview with Fox News anchor Shepard Smith, Satan (long thought to be the indefatigable Prince of Evil) admitted that he has lost his competitive edge and must yield to more energetic new seekers for his throne.

“Yeah, you know,” an exhausted looking Beelzebub told Smith, “I just can’t keep up anymore. It was so much easier back when I got my start. All I had to do was show up pretending to be an angel and people would do anything I told them. Or, like, I would just use sex or a little bit of money. It was no big deal, really.”

shepard-smith-confusedShepard Smith, a lower level servant himself, seemed distressed by the news.

“But you’re the Dark Lord,” he said, “you can’t just quit. Rupert and the gang back at headquarters won’t have anyone to take orders from anymore.”

Lucifer let out a cackle that echoed through the halls of Fox News, “Oh, that won’t be a problem. Truth is—and I realize that sounds funny coming from me—there are people much better qualified to run the show these days.”

“Who do you mean?” said a crestfallen Smith.

“Well, after walking about the earth like a roaring lion for the last few decades, I came up with a short list just in case I ever wanted to take things easy. I’m down to two names—Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. It wasn’t easy at first but this election cycle in the US helped a lot. I mean these two… hot damnation! You talk about power hungry, selfish, narcissistic, conniving, ruthless, and completely missing a moral compass. They both set such an admirable example of pure, distilled evil that I am hanging up my pitchfork and bifurcated tail. Time to take a load off these cloven hooves, if you know what I mean.”

The famously glib news anchor just stared, mouth falling open to let a small thread of drool fall on to his tie.

The Son of Perdition continued, “Yeah, I figure I can take a break for at least four years now. Never really thought that the End of Days would be so easy on me, but it looks like this thing will wrap itself up just fine.”

Shepard shook himself and rallied. “So you’re saying…”

“I’m saying,” the Father of Lies pumped both fists in the air, “Hillary and Trump for President. Ain’t no lesser thing to worry about here. Choose them both, I say. Either is fine. Both is even better. Burn it all down, fuckers! Whoooeee.”

“Err,” said Smith, “But their policies are vastly different.”

Satan hooked thumbs under his suspenders and shook his head, “Naw. Not so much. See, it’s not about what they’re saying to get elected. Why, I’ve been feeding them their lines for years. You know all those lobbyists—well, I know you know them, they’re your golfing buddies—anyway, if you ever look in a lobbyist’s mouth you’ll see that they have forked tongues. Every damned one of them works for me. It’s how I keep things going so crookedly well.”

Smith shuffled a stack of papers, trying to regain control of the interview.

“Way I see it,” said the Devil, “Now that I’m old and tired, it’s time to let them that has all the fire and brimstone in their veins take over. Those poor little people out there who are all worked up about who’s going to be President just don’t get it. I think it’s cute how exercised they get about it, too. Coming to blows on Facebook, yelling at each other everywhere. Hell, that’s the best part. The angrier they get at each other, the easier it is for me. All I have to do is dangle a couple of puppets out there and the psychotic little grubs do all the rest. What they don’t realize is that being all distracted by these idiots and their gorgeously false agendas keeps them from doing any real good in the world. And for that I am eternally grateful.”

At this point, Shepard Smith ended the interview. He was last seen hiding under his desk consuming handfuls of Xanax and barricading himself behind a growing pile of empty vodka bottles.

 

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Published on July 14, 2016 16:15

April 26, 2016

A Manifesto for the Weary

A Manifesto for the Weary

I’m exhausted, friends. Maybe someday soon I’ll feel less bone-weary and have energy to pick a side or something, but for now I’m just tired.

I’m tired of politics and religion and society and business situations that require me to fit into a hierarchy of ideas that aren’t even mine and defend things that no one has bothered to think about much.

I’m tired of mindless battles of ideas that don’t merit more than a passing glance but consume endless quantities of the precious stuff life is made of–my time, energy, and attention. I’m tired even of defending my weariness of it all. This is my life and I don’t have to play the game any certain way, or care about anything that doesn’t matter to me.

This is my personal statement of what has become a total commitment to take my own life back, one day at a time … one decision at a time … one ruthless turning toward myself and away from anything that is not alive or true for me at a time. Because this is all I have.

My time, my attention, my energy, and my actions. With these materials, I either build a life as I choose or I allow them to be taken from me and turned into a life that matches a design that is not my own. With these colors, I either paint my own picture or I allow them to be used to paint the image of a world that I may not desire.

So, being tired is a good thing, I suppose, if it means the turning point; if it means that I begin more and more to choose what is true to myself every day. Being tired is good if it means that I become more radically honest about my own selfishness … about my own desire to shape a life of my own.

I am happy for those who are not tired and love to keep playing the game. I really am. There are many days I would maybe even envy having all that extra energy to spend in pursuits of that sort. It seems simpler than a sometimes lonely walking away from things that a world-gone-crazy has decided are important.

But the older I get, the less energy I have to spend on anything that is not true for me. Somehow that seems to be a good thing, too. Because I find that when I spend the energy I have with care and intention, it’s more than enough to create a life that is deeply satisfying to me.

And that is all I ever really wanted anyway. So, I say “fuck it” to everything else.

Your fellow traveler,

Jacob Nordby

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Published on April 26, 2016 04:03

December 31, 2015

On Becoming

as above so below

 

Standing at the threshold of another year, it’s easy for me to feel impatient with the clichéd ideas about looking forward, setting new goals, determining to be a better person and whatnot.

 

That’s not entirely fair, though. This time of the year has deep roots in our consciousness, and, whatever shallow thing it has become, we have a need to mark time in this way. We need to pay attention to seasons so that life doesn’t slip entirely away from us while we lose track of what we might become.

 

This tradition goes back a long way…a very, very long way. Apparently, Mesopotamia (Iraq) instituted the concept of celebrating the new year in 2000 BC. The Romans dedicated New Year’s Day to Janus, the pagan god of gates, doors, and beginnings, for whom the first month of the year, January, is also named. The pagan deity Janus was depicted as having two faces: one looking forward and the other backward, suggesting that celebrations of the new year are pagan traditions.

 

Realizing that, it helps me pause for a few moments right now and notice the ravels of ritual and tradition that, even in our fractured, micro-attention-span time, provide strands that lead us back to a rich tapestry if we tug on them a bit.

 

This is a deeply personal time for me, too. I have had several important years in my life, but this one stands out in my memory as a true watershed. I have experienced real magic in ways I did not see coming. (I spoke about this on last week’s podcast, My Own Private Walden . You may tune in to that for the full story if you wish. Click here.)

 

podcast-logo-273x300

As I described in detail on that podcast, this time last year, I said a simple intention to myself. “I want 2015 to be the healthiest year of my life on every level.” Had I known what I was asking for, I might have been more selective about the layers of myself I was willing to shed, scrape away, and transform.

 

Today, just before I leave the house to go celebrate the changing of years with friends, I am grateful for what has come before. It changed me. I no longer feel that I am on a race to somewhere. 

 

What has emerged in me is a deep sense of becoming.

 

I wrote in the Blessed Are The Weird book (the writing of which has been part of this process—living, feeling, processing, transforming, watching it all…writing about it) that, “…Success for anything or anyone is becoming what it was designed to be. That’s it.”

 

Becoming.

 

Unlike artificial snapshots of what society or advertisers or popular teachers show me as “the best life” and then I flog myself to exhaustion and self-loathing trying to get there, becoming is a thing of honoring the depths of who I am. The forces that shape me; shadow and light, above and below, within and without.

 

Becoming requires patience. Becoming means letting life turn us into something real.

 



 

 

This scrap from The Velveteen Rabbit is perhaps the most beautiful way to say it:

“Real isn’t how you are made,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.’


‘Does it hurt?’ asked the Rabbit.


‘Sometimes,’ said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. ‘When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.’


‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’


‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”






 

This year I look forward with a great deal of energy and excitement, but I feel those springing up from a deeper place than before. 

 

Yes, I have books to write and companies to grow and jobs to do and mountains to climb.

 

Somewhere along the way, though, I lost my sense of a place to get to and have fallen in love with what I have become…and what I am becoming.

 

My friends and fellow travelers, I wish you a New Year of becoming. May the path rise to meet your feet with every step you take in love and honesty. And may your hearts be filled with just a little more joy than you can easily handle.

 

 

 
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Published on December 31, 2015 15:55