Duende47: The Romeo Effect
When we first meet young Romeo, he's mopping around a grove of sycamore trees. He is in love with Rosaline. But she doesn't love him back.
It's the old classic boy loves girl but the girl doesn't love boy. When approached by his best friend Benvolio, he states that "Sad hours seem long."
Possibly the first example in literature of an emo.
Benvolio asks what makes his hours so long, and Romeo responds with such clarity that it requires some pondering on our behalf. He says: "Not having that, which having, makes them short."
He desperately wants Rosaline to return his affections. But she doesn't. And this engulfs his every thought.
Benvolio provides Romeo with the antidote.
By giving liberty unto thine eyes:
Examine other beauties—
In other words, stop desiring things you have no right to have. Benvolio is, telling Romeo to be stoic.
Epictetus, a very early Greek Stoic, wrote essentially Benvolio's lines but without the succinctness.
The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and seperate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control.
Benvolio forces Romeo to go out later that night to get him to see there are other fishes in the sea. Baz Luhrmann's 1999 Romeo+Juliet takes this literally and has Romeo and Juliet meet in a bathroom that has a fish tank separating the two.
This ability to give yourself the liberty, as Benvolio calls it, is called elsewhere wisdom.
In 1934, American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr created the Serenity Prayer.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
Romeo tried to woo Rosaline, and it didn't work out. No one is telling him a broken heart is not painful. It hurts. Each and every single time. It fuckin hurts. But it isn't worth dying for.
If only Benvolio had told Romeo that, then perhaps later that week Romeo wouldn't have killed himself when he found Juliet lying in the family tomb.
Stephen Covey encapsulates this idea in his Circle of Influence. For Romeo, Rosalind started off in his influence circle, but then quickly moved out to the circle of concern. Benvolio's advice was to only focus on what he could control, namely his own eyes.
In today's world, Benvolio would have told Romeo to get back onto Tinder or Bumble and keep swiping.
The question is how to discern what it is we have control over.
If you are a sane human, you would have had a coffee this morning. Did you worry about this coffee? Most likely not. You either made it yourself using coffee you bought or you went to a cafe and ordered one.
Have you ever applied for a job and as you waited for that phone call telling you if you were successful or not, your heart raced every time your mind thought about it? That flitter is the beginning of anxiety, a surefire sign you have no control over the outcome.
It is said anxiety is fear of the future, but it is more a fear of what you can't control.
And this is the Romeo effect. Listen to your heart, and identify those moments you obsess over something you have no control over. The key is to find the wisdom to free yourself over that which you have no control over.
If that fails, just find a bathroom with a fish tank in it and wait. Juliet is bound to show up. Eventually.