Podcasts and Blogs of R.R. Thomas

In the 1980s, Thomas was a starving college student and aspiring screenwriter. That’s when his father helped him get a real job in corporate America. The rest is a miserable mess of perfection.

The old normal.

An upwardly mobile lifestyle that built a career and supported a family, while he endured three decades of self-loathing for being stuck in the mediocrity of his American success story.

R.R. Thomas became a disciple of his own mantra DROP OUT BEFORE DROPPING DEAD and peeled back 30 years of his professional life for a career do-over.

In 2018, he spoke with several young men and women at the Burning Man event in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. Many of them felt trapped in their life choices and passionless careers. They sought his throwback-style sage advice from his 60 years of curiosity-minded questioning and seeking answers.

R.R. Thomas responded by sharing his personal insights in his blog posts and podcast series.

An Old Man’s Guide to Hipster Bliss

He hopes to reach young professionals and life seekers of all ages with his blogs and podcast series (coming soon!).

The choices we make and personal energy we invest determine the quality of our lives, but often these two factors fail to mesh until it’s too late to make the life transforming change. “Where you zig rather than zag is the difference of loving or hating yourself for a lifetime,” R.R. Thomas explains.

Today, you will find him writing in his window seat at the corner cafe and recording his podcast series at his loft – sharing his insight of how to best achieve career success and personal fulfillment.

Ch 1 – Sinkhole Salad

Middle Age is Revolting

and so Fucking Delicious.

*    *    *

Bon Appétit Mon Ami –

I look forward to waking up in the morning.

That wasn’t always true.

Like a lot of folks, I was stuck in the muck of settling. A good-paying job with benefits. I hate that part of my life.

It didn’t matter that I was well regarded at work. I was only acting; playing the role of a competent middle-management corporate slug. My passionless career spanned 30 years with a wicked three-hour daily commute.

I was trapped inside a bowl of rotten lettuce and squishy tomatoes. My professional life had become a Sinkhole Salad. And I was one of the stale croutons.

When I noticed the beige carpet tiles in my office cubicle turning into quicksand, I knew I was sinking fast. No way could I last another dozen years to reach full retirement. When you’re “fucked at 56” it’s time to write your anthem rock song and hit the road.

Thoughts of living in a trailer down by the river had a strange appeal. I concocted escape scenarios that involved selling off my assets, torching my credit cards, and paying cash for a minimalist lifestyle. My laptop and a bedroll were all I needed.

Then, a miracle.

I had surgery to repair two herniated discs in my neck and was out of work for six weeks.

For the first time in 25 years I was away from my cubicle for more than a two-week period.

I dreaded going back to my desk job – preferring the process of having my neck opened up and two cadaver bones and a metal plate inserted into my spine. The debilitating recovery that followed gave me time to consider other possibilities. This much I knew: there is more to life than pining for another medical procedure.

1985. The year I graduated from college, gave up racing motorcycles, and got a “real job” is the year my dream of becoming a screenwriter was only visible in the rear-view mirror of my new lease car.

30 years later.

2015. FUCK. I needed a life do-over. Mostly though, I just needed a place to breathe, settle my mind, and remember. Remember how I used to think big and feel deeply. And how I used to dream about a future of limitless possibilities.

Hell with all that. I would settle for traveling back time for just one hour. When I exit my time machine, I will arrive at Anaheim Stadium on the evening of December 13, 1975, sitting on my Honda CR 125cc at the starting line before the gate drops for the High School Motocross Championship. The only thought entering my mind at that moment is getting the “hole shot” to the first turn.

A Legacy of Nurturing My Daughters’ Dreams

My daughter is attending USC’s Thornton School of Music. She is pursuing a career as a film composer. My other daughter works for an interior design firm in San Fransisco and is currently traveling in Spain and Italy for six weeks.

I made damn sure they never settled on a “comfortable career.”

Being their role model of what not to do has put them on the road less traveled. They will likely experience a few pot holes and maybe a ditch or two along the way, but they’ll do just fine. In another 30 years or so they won’t be looking forward to a surgeon’s knife for a nice long vacation.

Wisdom is Accumulated Courage

I set my career aflame leaving my seat in an office cubicle for a window seat at the corner cafe.

My new starting line: 56.

Now every day is balls-out forward motion. Since there are so many new roads to travel, I bought a Harley. What midlife crisis is complete without one? Not mine.

012416FSTOPrtHR-120 (1)

I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned about the art of living. Make no mistake it is an art and always a work in progress.

Like most memoirs, there are moments of clarity and action mixed with muddled periods of inaction. The “life changers” and “life settlers” that define one’s hopes and dreams.

Only with the benefit of time was I able to look back and see what caused me to suddenly go blind during crucial moments in my life. The assessment process takes place sometime after the age of 50. This classic mid-life point of personal self reflection is a part of our DNA, the severity of which is largely determined by the degree of one’s regret.

Mine was more pronounced than most.

I quit work to write about it. How irresponsible and fucking cool is that?

So climb aboard my writer’s blog. Let’s take this badass ride together!


GO TO: Chapter 2 - Cage of Freedom

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Ch 2 – Cage of Freedom

CAUTION  If you find yourself in a sinkhole and can’t seem to get out, do not attempt a “selfie” Vulcan Mind Meld to feel better. Trust me on this.

The moment we settle for the “job that pays well” or the “stable job,” our ability to exercise free will is compromised.

I’m not suggesting that excellent pay and job security are not important. I have an issue with the word “settle.”

Many believe that charting a new career path that requires ending their current employment or striking out on their own is tantamount to shooting oneself in the foot. Since we need both feet for walking, people rarely do that. Unfortunately, if you don’t go after your dream early in life, you probably never will.

Humans are creatures of habit. In the natural world, they are not that much different than ants. After exploring their surroundings, ants form paths that resemble a Jackson Pollock painting until they eventually find a dead grasshopper to feed on. When something that plump and juicy suddenly appears, ants (humans) take pieces of it back to their nest (home). They share their good fortune with others (family). Ants create a “hot path” by producing scented chemicals called pheromones. Trails (transportation links) quickly form for others to follow.

Humans build highways, roads, and sidewalks increasing mobility to and from homes, workplaces, shops, etc. While using the Internet, the “web” appears to be complex at first with limitless apps and searchable sites to chose from. Complicated? Not really. These multiple pathways make our lives more efficient and comfortable, and eventually, they become the road most traveled.

Soon, as we age, taking the road less traveled is pushed further and further from our mind. Our dreams become distant memories or worse, they are stored into our sub-conscious as failures.

Office jobs pay well with excellent benefits. The truth is: once you get a taste of corporate crack, you are fucked for life, and, you’re not. Not as long as you follow company protocol in your professional life and remain sufficiently self indulgent in your personal life. Some call that being materialistic – or just another asshole BMW driver – or you simply like crack and now you can afford it.

Pattern of No Return

The American dream of upward mobility promises a better way of life. For many of us this can be accomplished through the employee/employer relationship, either in a government or a corporate job. Employees receive pay increases, healthcare, life insurance, and a retirement plan. Additional incentives, sometimes referred to as “perks of the job” come with the type of business or industry you are in.

If you work for a major university, your children may get a free ride if they meet the standard for admission. Airline industry employees receive travel deals and free flights. Upper management positions come with a company car, bonus pay, and stock options.

If the aim is to climb the management ladder, the stakes are high and highly competitive. One’s star may rise in the organization all the way to the top only to crash and burn in spectacular fashion. Relocated, lateraled, put into a window seat, or given a golden parachute are some of the business jargon terms used when a top executive falls from grace.

Position is power. Without it, professional lives crumble sometimes destroying personal lives. If you’ve bought into a safe harbor life style, you keep your lower grade job sucking the service sector or corporate tit until the day you retire or die which ever comes first.

Personal and professional lives merge – they always do. Many of us get married, move into better neighborhoods, and start families. In return, employers can expect their employees to stay put. And so it goes. Working for The Man solves the I-Just-Got-Out-of-College-and-I-Can’t-Find-a-Decent-Job-and-I’m-Tired-of-Eating-Beans Blues.

Government employees receive guaranteed employment and full retirement benefits after 20 years. It just makes good business sense to keep employees fat and happy. For one thing, it breeds loyalty and makes them less likely to jump ship.

What does this all mean? It’s the subtle and not-so-subtle differences between the cages we all live in.

A Brave New World

Baby boomers are familiar with the popular 1960s slogan: “Never trust anyone over 30.” Youth is a transitional state of mind characterized by a lack of life experience mixed with idealism and fuel to burn. If you are over 30, you have no doubt experienced the personal transformation in your own life.

Hippies become Yuppies.

Likewise, Hipsters will become Appsters. An Appster is a Hipster who is less tactile and hands on. In the future they will become more 3D digital and VR (virtual reality) reliant. He or she sells off their extensive vinyl record collection and vintage Polaroid camera to purchase the latest virtual reality fuck & suck technology. It is a new dawn in perfecting the human “techno-orgasmic experience” without the complications inherent with human contact and messy emotions. No clean up required.

Settling

Young people energetically resist bullshit, yet often find themselves immersed in it. Every revolution in human history is awash in their blood. However, after the Animal House college years are behind them, their beer vomit dorm rooms become office cubicles with that sanitary napkin feel.

“Settling down” leads to accepting, which requires heavy doses of rationalizing. The ability to rationalize one’s circumstances and choices, and thereby mitigate the consequences, is essential for human survival. We all need to eat. That requires a job. Then we become a patron of the arts and support others dreams. See how rationalizing works?

Maybe so, but a lifestyle built on a lifetime of settling often comes at a price. For me, the price was my soul.

Cage of freedom, that’s our prison
We are the jailer and captive combined
All the trappings of our own design

Cage of freedom, growing smaller
‘Til every wall now touches the skin

There’s no exit – there’s no entrance
Remember how we swallowed the key?

– Jon Anderson, Cage of Freedom (Metropolis)


GO TO: Chapter 3 - Sound of Settling

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