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“[L]ike the first stages of delirium in other fevers, it is a highly pleasurable state of existence; the patient fancies that the golden age is returned, that he himself is another Midas, that he has discovered the philosopher’s stone, and by its subtle alchymy he can turn every thing it touches into gold.” The New Zealand Evangelist, Vol. 2, no. 13 (1 July 1849)
Our final weeks in Italy, Erin and I tried to visit a goldsmith three times. Let me put it into context. I have gold fever. I love prospecting for gold (seriously). I love the promise held in each pan of pay dirt. It’s an obsession. This goldsmith uses ancient Florentine techniques to make objects out of gold. I was determined to meet him. We mapped the location of the shop and looked up the business hours. On our first two visits, we found the shop dark. Maybe they’d closed early. Five hours early. On our third visit, we found the shop gutted. How could this be? I pounded on the doors and jabbed the buzzer until the goldsmith materialized and opened the door. I’m not sure he invited me in; nevertheless, I found myself standing inside, scanning the dusty haze of his demolished showroom for a glimmer of gold. He was remodeling, the goldsmith quickly explained. “Come here tomorrow”, he said, handing me a card with another address, “we’ll probably be open”.
The next day, we set out for the address, hopeful. This location didn’t look vacant or ransacked. More importantly, it looked open. Indeed, this time, the master goldsmith welcomed us into his part showroom, part workshop, part museum. Behind a counter, he drew Florins – delicate, Florentine gold coins – from their pouches while we talked about the generations that built his business. It was so gratifying, leaving the shop with a symbol of that tradition. Unexpectedly, I was even more gratified by our persistence.
Yes, persistence. Vacation is for desisting, not persisting. It’s supposed to be a departure from the difficulties of daily life. Italy was a lot of things; unfortunately, getting directly from Point A to Point B was not among those things. We went to Italy with the false confidence that comes from living in a city laid out on a grid. A .5 mile walk for gelato could turn into a 5-mile odyssey through the outskirts of the city – that’s on top of the 5 miles you already walked to find groceries. You’re a chump to stand in a check out line. There are no lines, just loose amalgamations of people in the vicinity of a cash register. How do you like profuse sweating and routine invasions of physical space? Welcome to your discomfort zone.
TRUTH BOMB ?:
When you get frustrated that things didn’t go according to plan, you blind yourself to the opportunities arising from the ashes of your plan. Plan to have NO PLAN and roll out!
We’re encouraged to get out of our comfort zones, but a mere departure isn’t enough. You have to live in your discomfort zone, occasionally, to examine who you are. Do the winds of change erode your integrity or do they shape into a greater form? Embracing the discomfort zone, I found myself on Facebook, cold DM’ing Pedicones. Many were in Teramo, the province encompassing a place called Sant’Omero. 12 years ago, at my grandfather’s funeral, I found an old photo of my grandfather and his family in Sant’Omero. Was my grandfather from Sant’Omero? Was he just visiting with his family? With more questions than answers, Erin and I hopped in the Audi and headed for Abruzzo, destination Teramo.
REALIZATION BOMB ?:
Overthinking is a luxury. You can analyze costs and benefits all day, as long as you’re comfortable. You can plan so hard it feels like you’re accomplishing something. Most of the time, you’re just standing in your own way. Stop trying so hard to BE and try actualizing your being by DOING.
What had I hoped to find in Teramo? Roots buried deep in the fertile soil of an Italian Eden? I don’t know but that’s NOT what we found. We settled for a coffee shop off of a cracked thoroughfare in a nondescript town. Hoping to develop more leads, in somewhat broken Italian, I started chatting with the barista. The barista’s best friend is a Pedicone! The barista’s best friend lives just 8 kilometers away in Sant’Onofrio! That would have been a pretty cool coincidence, in and of itself, but why stop there? Sant’Onofrio or bust!
Bust. That’s what Sant’Onofrio seemed like at first. It was beautiful, seemingly empty, and quiet. We were ready to leave until a grandmotherly woman on a third-floor balcony started shouting at Erin. Erin, not understanding Italian or shouting, grabbed my arm and steered me out in front of her. What happened next hit me right in the chest. What happened next affirmed my life.
Find out in PT. III (coming soon)
This post was written by Jim Pedicone, Chief of Staff at Design Pickle. Read part 1 of his story here.
Jim was Design Pickle’s first full-time employee. During his first 2 years as Marketing Director, Jim helped grow Design Pickle’s monthly recurring revenue (MRR) from $30k to $500k. Jim and Design Pickle CEO & Founder, Russ Perry have been close friends for more than 20 years. He currently resides in Phoenix, AZ with his wife, Erin.