It was barely 10 days into the viral shutdown at my dental office. I had all kinds of plans for reorganizing the storage area and lab but it was fifty-eight degrees outside, no wind, and sunny. A perfect early spring fishing day. So, I headed for one of my fishing holes ready for signs that there would be “NO FISHING” due to the virus. But there were none. Just one guy in a canoe on the other side of the lake.
I headed down a wooded path to one of my favorite spots and stopped. Around the bend intermingling with the sunlit mists rising from the lake, were two 16-17-year-old kids. A modern Romeo and Juliet, standing and wrapped around each other in a hormone high. Oh well, the cynic would say, two irresponsible kids who… What’s the difference? I turned around to another spot.
However, that brief image returned to me all day because of its contradiction to the environment around us all. It was a visual metaphor of what was lacking in the foreboding world beyond. An environment not any different than that of the 16th century Romeo and Juliet.
Romeo and Juliet also lived in a 16th century world of fear and foreboding. A death filled setting with confusion and circular thinking. Streets filled with violence and blood. Cruel arbitrary authority. Seedy sexual talk. A pestilence, hampering communication. Bloody feuds at all levels of society. Deadly street drug merchants (the Apothecary). Astrologers/fake scientists defining people’s fates. Even people wearing masks. A general moral emptiness. Everything is against the lovers first – love transcendence.
Most of all those in the adult world are in Juliet’s words: “wicked fiend”(s). Romeo might say they are people that love to hear themselves talk. To Juliet’s lyrical, transcendent emotions:
“There’s no trust,
No faith, no honesty in men; all perjured
All foresworn, all naught, all dissemblers.”
The ironic twist is that the fictional and real couples both choose a leap of love that transcends the infection of fear in the world around them. Children prefer hope to fear. Age and maturity has its place if it does not corrupt and atrophy and succumb. These two couples exemplify the zest for life and transcendence the mature must keep. Their transcendent first love cannot mature and blossom unless authority allows a free environment for love to nurture for everyone. The freedom to nurture love is the only way for us to successfully live in a civil society. It is a never-ending battle.
It’s just not romantic love that needs to be nurtured. But love of family, friends, neighbors, strangers, God, our country. An ideal that is worth pursuing. For the awkward, microscopic part of the world that dentists live in, it is the love of what they do. The small services. The little favors and good deeds.
For all, it is to “defy the stars” of fear and foreboding. We cannot continue to live or love in a graveyard. The remedies are in ourselves. We do not surrender reason to fear. Juliet’s “happy dagger” shows a defiant vitality to death. As does Romeo’s last kiss of his “bright angel” before dying. Oh, happy virus! Be fearful but unafraid. “Love’s light wings” transcends life’s vagaries, cruelties, and disappointments.
Dr. Andrew Tanchyk, practitioner, South Amboy, NJ