“Blessed are the weird people: poets, misfits, writers mystics, painters, troubadours, for they teach us to see the world through different eyes.”– Jacob Nordby
Jacob Nordby is the author of ‘Blessed are the Weird’, a book for anyone who has ever felt like they don’t quite belong.
Jacob had created his way into a life that didn’t fit. But it was one he couldn’t escape, having committed to some deep anchors (a big house, cars, providing for kids etc), on the back of several successful businesses. In 2008 with the financial crash, his businesses turned upside down and everything was lost.
It gave him the opportunity to clear things out and start afresh. This is the kind of story that sounds neat and shiny now. But it was terrifying and painful. A complete disintegration of reality, which was truly earth shattering.
The Blessing of an Upside Down Moment
Sometimes it’s in the hardest of times that we receive an unexpected opportunity to connect with who we are. I’ve experienced this over the past 12 months. Despite the trauma, confusion, and bleakness, I have glimpsed moments of connection. Both within myself, and within the context of humanity. What it means to truly belong.
Living Right Through the Middle
The energy that keeps us going, questioning, and trying, is what defines a creative life. We can get hung up on the products or usefulness of words like creativity and authenticity. They are used to serve some purpose outside of ourselves. But for a truly creative and authentic life to occur, they need to be threaded right through the middle of our existence.
What is the ‘feeling’ of creativity?
It’s the same feeling as life itself. Love. Joy. Connection.
To experience our creative nature is to be in life, to grapple with love, to feel joy (not the same as happiness or pleasure). Joy is the deeper connection with an existential meaningfulness that comes from creativity, open-heartedness, and love. This is not a linear thing, but a swelling. A heart beat. A rhythm that can’t be controlled or tamed. And it exists whether we do or not. But we get to tap into it, experience it, feel it.
I had a whole bunch of questions that I wanted to ask Jacob. In the end I asked one. The rest of the conversation just flowed, and I wanted to share the unedited version for you to enjoy.
“Creativity is not something we put in a little room or a box and visit when it’s convenient for us.”
This is one of Jacob Norby’s deep convictions. It drives his work and his interactions with anyone who seeks his advice on writing. Creativity envelopes our lives. It’s not something we ‘do’. These ideas resonated with me massively. First in the book, and then in this interview.
‘Sense of Otherness’
“At the age of 10 I wanted to be a writer” – Jacob Nordby
This was the first time Jacob felt like he knew what he truly wanted to do with his life. But he locked this dream away through the gradual process where he created himself into a life that didn’t feel like it fitted. Aged 34, it was a terrifying realisation. He ‘had it all’ (the big house, employees, multiple businesses).
He had no idea how to ‘get back into alignment’. It seemed like the only way out was to go deeper in. Making enough money to buy his freedom and get away from the anchors he had established.
Until 2008 when the financial crisis occurred, and he was handed the gift of a new start when his businesses were thrown upside down. This was a horribly chaotic experience with a lot of darkness and confusion. But one which with the comfort of hindsight, was key to bringing alignment back to the table.
This was the moment Jacob started writing again.
Many of us create our ways into lives that leave us feeling out of alignment. We might call it ‘drift‘. Or just getting caught in the tide of life. We wake up one day, realising that there are so many dreams, hopes, and desires that we once carried, that have been left to stagnate and disappear.
It’s never too late to ‘come home’. We don’t need a huge crisis that turns our lives upside down. But we do need to be in a place of readiness.
The process of getting to know ourselves and other people better is like the homecoming story of our inner orphan. We experience isolation and alienation in our activities, certain relationships, and lives we create ourselves into over time. But there is a home within each of us, where we can find, and find a profound sense of peace.