Life at 50
Life at 50
[An interesting self-assessment about life after 50 years. How many of you are at that milestone?]
So, I was arguing with myself as to whether I ought to post something here on my 50th birthday, which is today. I read through a few other notable guys in the manosphere and they all have something like 30 Lessons at 30 and 40 Rules for 40 or something like that. Not to take anything away from them, but for the most part lists like this are basic aphorisms that are certainly wisdom, but are things you can probably be 20 and think “Hmmm, yeah, okay,…”
That said I had considered just enjoying my short break from the blog (two weeks is as long as I’ve gone in six and a half years) and relaxing today, but I’m fifty today and I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been doing some life assessment for the past 4 months or so. 50 lessons at 50 might get a little tedious to read so I’ll just let my readers in on what I’ve been considering lately and what I think have been a few or the more important lessons I’ve learned in the last 50 years. I’m not exactly a stream of consciousness style writer, but I’m going to be a little more loose and open with this. Don’t worry, I’ll get back to meat & potatoes posts next week.
In the six and a half years I’ve been blogging, and the 7 more I’ve been writing in the ‘sphere, I’ve done my best not to inject my personal life into what I write about unless it’s directly related to a topic and serves as a decent illustration for some purpose. There’s a few I can think of, but like I said, they’re usually to highlight a point. Hell, for the first five years of this blog and all of my time writing at SoSuave I did my best to stay anonymous and kept my nondescript face out of the public sphere. And it’s anonymity where I’m going to start.
When I began writing on the SoSuave forums I had already learned the hard way how easy it is to have your livelihood taken away from you by vindictive and juvenile minds who simply want to have some power beyond the cubicles they live in. I was working for a liquor importer and I’d put together a fantastic co-branding arrangement with an X-sports organization and one of our proprietary brands. I’d worked on the promo work and all the creative for almost two years and all of it got flushed down the toilet by one email alleging that one guy from the organization had used a racial slur (during a charity event no less). The allegations were false, I went to great lengths to prove it false, but the damage was done. The C.O.O. who was entirely unfamiliar with the organization, the social circle or the event pulled the plug.
Two years work building the association was gone in the space of 2 hours and one anonymous email because it was simpler to pull the plug than it was to have to explain why it was all the vindictiveness of some kid on the internet who had a beef with some guy who rode a motorcycle. That taught me a lesson that I’ve used a lot in my writing – stay anonymous as possible, because all the years of hard work I’ve invested into this blog, my books, the audio books, my talks now and my public persona can be lost in the course of a day. I’m far more anti-fragile these days. My work is on my terms, which also took a very long time to establish to my liking, but even still I understand how truly fragile my own and so many other men’s lives really are with respect to maintaining it.
I don’t really like that term, “anti-fragile” is like a badge of honor self-made guys like to attach to that other term “entrepreneur”. Not to take anything away from them, but everyone is fragile to some degree. If the social justice zeitgeist of this era can’t destroy you financially, they’ll happily destroy your marriage, your family, the things you love to do and the company you keep. We live in an era when the politics of personal destruction are easily enacted with a few emails and a viral tweet.
So I did my best to stay anonymous as Rollo Tomassi. Even when I became more anti-fragile I understood that if some hater couldn’t get me fired they would come after my daughter, my wife, my dogs, my extended family, etc. without any fore or afterthought. That’s kind of changing for me now. I’ve got three books under my belt (yes, there’s a fourth I’m working on too) and after doing really only two in-person talks it became clear that I needed to be more accessible.
The Rational Male, Preventive Medicine and Positive Masculinity are my dents in the universe. At 50 now I can see that these books and my writing, my ideas and the dots I’ve connected, courtesy of the men who’ve offered there experiences to the whole, will be my legacy in this life. That legacy is dependent on Amazon publishing and printing my work, WordPress hosting my blog, Audible accepting my audio books and Twitter and YouTube providing their platforms from which I can spread those ideas. Everyone is fragile. My plans for the future and ensuring these ideas live involves making them less dependent on this fragility.
I make the least amount of royalties on my printed books, but they are what I hope men will buy the most because it’s the least fragile way of spreading and discussing the ‘dangerous thought’ that is the Red Pill in intersexual dynamics. It’s a very strange and humbling thought to think that my grand and great-grandchildren might read my words in the future. It’s also really humbling to know that I’ve helped other men change and improve their lives; sometimes saved their lives. I have trouble describing what it feels like to have a guy you just met pour his heart out to you like he’s known you for years and tells you if it wasn’t for what you wrote, if it hadn’t been for me reaching him with these ideas he’d be dead. It kind of give you that weird chill you get when you see someone else get hurt and you can’t do anything to help.
But I did help. I can actually say that my work has positively impacted the lives of other men (and women) and likely the course of their lives and their families’ lives, and the whole causality thing kind of unravels from there. It’s what I’d always hoped I could do. As most readers know, a lot of what prompted my writing was the suicide of my brother-in-law and another good friend back in 2003. I’d been writing in what would become the ‘sphere since 2001, but these deaths were what moved me to try to help other men more directly.
I’ve done really well for myself. That’s a statement of fact, though it sounds like I’m glossing myself. I still see a lot of guys I used to know who, back in the day, I was almost certain we’re going to go places and do big things. With the exception of maybe two, every one of them has fallen short of what I used to think they’d accomplish. A lot of them were the inspirations for posts about changing the direction of your life to better facilitate a woman’s plans for her own life. People hate it when other people compare lives. The standard line is “well if they’re happy who are you to judge?” or else it’s “we all find happiness in our own ways” or something suitably ambiguous. It’s one of those things we say so as not to appear judgmental. But everyone of us makes comparisons about a great many thing. There’s not a woman on planet earth who doesn’t compare herself, her quality of life and the man she’s married with her sister’s.
I could give a shit about what these guys have done with their lives up to age fifty, but I do think we need to take assessments of how our lives have turned out. It’s natural for us to want to measure our achievements, but at my age all that does now is make me realize how stupid I was when I thought so much more of other people and not enough of myself then. We shouldn’t compare ourselves with anyone else, I got that, but we should compare ourselves with what we believe is our personal potential. I’ve still got a lot to do before they put me in the ground, but I think I’ve done okay up to now with respect to my potential. If anything I don’t think I gave my potential enough credit when I was younger. Maybe we all do that?
I’m kind of scared of the future in a way. My Dad died from Alzheimers/Dementia just shy of his 73rd birthday in 2010. He had early onset too, so he started forgetting things at about 64. At least thats when it became apparent to everyone. That’s my worst fear today, but it’s also whats driving me now. In the autobiography of Steve Jobs it was obvious to everyone that once he acknowledged he was going to die early he started pushing the limits of what he wanted to get done before he went out. Consequently we got all of these great innovations in a relatively short time. Look at Apple’s “innovations” today. *I’ve only ever used Macs, even when they weren’t cool.
I’ve done far better for myself than my father ever did. Again, that’s not a ‘slay-the-father’ sentiment it’s just fact. My dad didn’t have the same potential though. And I still have more potential to fulfill. This has become more pressing for me recently and not just because of the fear of dying early – and yes, I do fear death, but mostly because I see it as a cessation of potential to do more. I genuinely have a mental list of things I need to do that I’ve only really become aware of since I started this blog and became an author and matured into the 40-50 year old Rollo Tomassi. Don’t think of that as a bucket list of some experiences to be had before death, rather, think of it as a ‘to do’ list that I need to accomplish before I go out. And that ‘to do’ list only became apparent to me in the last 7 years.
I know what I need to do now. It kind of sucks that a purpose to life might be something you only realize later in life. I’m sure it happens sooner for some guys, but for me it was necessary to live through the experiences that made me before I could know it. I’m still an artist in my essence, and I get edgy if I’m unable to create something new every day. Seriously, I’ve been like this since I was a child. I have a need to create, even if it’s just something simple, every day. That need has carried over into every aspect of my life and career. And really, the books are products of that need, but there’s a lot more, a purpose to the works themselves and that’s what my life has been about since I began the blog and the books and my persona.
I am Rollo Tomassi now. Don’t worry, I’m not legally changing my name. At first it was a clever online handle for me, and my real name is so white-bread generic it almost serves as a form of anonymity. Now it is me, and I’m okay with that.
Having said all of that, I’m considering a kind of semi-retirement from my primary career in the liquor and gaming promo business and applying myself more to writing and speaking. I’m already kind of doing this now since reaching a state of being financially anti-fragile. I’ll never fully retire from my brands so long as I have ownership percentages and creative decisions will need to be made. I’m not sure how this is going to look, but I find myself wanting to apply more of myself to writing, speaking, maybe doing some kind of podcast or terrestrial radio show. I feel like I need to do this now with my 50s ahead of me and more potential to do good in the world with what I have and the time I hope I have left.
In the comments today I was hoping to see what my peers thought of all this. I hope it’s not to navel gazy.