don’t listen to anyone. non ascoltare nessuno.
that was step one of the Roman butcher’s cooking instructions.
he sold gigantic sides of meat—Fred Flintstone proportions—at a shop in the city center.
whenever a customer was doubtful or looked overwhelmed by the dinosaur ribcage he purchased, the butcher sprang into action. removing his gloves, he disappeared into the back office. after some rooting he returned waving a slip of paper, a half sheet at most.
as Italian behavior goes, telling someone to ignore everyone (except the speaker himself) is standard.
and while don’t listen to anyone could be seen as a joke—“everyone thinks i’m crazy but they’re the crazy ones!”—the butcher was serious. he was right, too.
let's assume you bought meat from him. since it’s the middle of an ancient, chaotic city, you’re schlepping your loot by foot. people may ask what you’re carrying but at a minimum, you'll be stared at as you struggle over uneven cobblestones.
as you get closer to home, you’ll probably run into neighbors. once they find out you’re lugging the side of a Mastodon, opinions will fly. well, first you have to rub it with rosemary, then garlic.
the point is, advice will surface where none is needed. and you have to be ready.
otherwise, by the time you’re climbing the 72 uneven, slippery marble steps to your apartment, your head will be spinning with culinary options and self-doubt:
wait, did Fabrizio say garlic then rosemary, or the other way around?
am i being punked by a butcher? why don’t i know this?
not to worry, from behind his glass case your friendly, neighborhood butcher foresaw it all. his technique was unusual, artistic, and bound to be questioned.*
having survived the fire of people’s judgment, he assumed the role of Meat Preparation Guardian. his permission slips save the world, one shoddily prepared dinosaur at a time.
he understood the paradoxes of doing things differently:
- the less certain you are, the more advice you’ll seek
- the nuttier the idea sounds, the more safe, rote, and discouraging opinions you'll receive
alas, there is no idea watchman to protect your creative sparks. you're on our own. you must be your own Roman butcher.
hand yourself an A4 half sheet and start writing. the first step is don’t listen to anyone about your outlandish ideas.
because your fledgling thought is essentially as fragile and time sensitive as raw meat. initially, it must be handled with care.
this isn’t about ignoring the suggestions of people in the know. for example, when i met a guy who’s a podcast pro and he gently nixed my idea for one, citing over-saturation, i trusted him.
the goal is circumventing the peanut gallery. because the court of pubic opinion can stomp on new ideas before you even wrap your head around them.
consider the source, keep your own counsel, and most importantly, non ascoltare nessuno.
*i don’t know the details. i was just lucky enough to enjoy the spoils of this revolutionary meat preparation. and although i only care about food to the extent that i’m still alive, his method was sensational.
look, you made it! you either have an opinion or you're lost.
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