Like John, I met Sherlock* at a time in my life when I needed a charismatic, brilliant, loyal companion who could point the way. I’ve found that the context of our own stories at the time we encounter new ones colors everything: our reading, our appreciation… our understanding. Although I had not just returned from a war like John, I had been through a bit of an ordeal. So being welcomed in to 221B felt natural, and joining on the adventures felt both exciting and safe.
In early 2008, I stayed awake into the wee hours reading from the complete works, crawling deeper into the chase, along the streets of Victorian London or into the fog along the moors. I remember one quote that particularly struck me: “She had a sonic secret sorrow, that woman.” (The Copper Beeches)
What Sherlock really gives us is this relationship that makes us feel like the star. We are Watson, the one person let into the heart (ish) of a man brilliant beyond any we've ever met. Experiencing the story through Watson's perspective is magical. Being the one trusted confidant (ish) of Sherlock Holmes is a dream and a nightmare at once. On the one hand: Adventures! On the other hand: that we don't understand until our so-called bestie explains them!
Then of course there are the many adaptations (2 tv shows and the movies since then, innumerable pastiches, inspired-by stories and other forms) ... but the original canon is the true heart of it. The adaptations are interesting, but the canon is everything. (I know, controversial stance. But you can't have the one without the other.)
I still love Sherlock Holmes. I really enjoyed participating in Columbia's Sherlock Holmes and the Internet of Things project last year, and look forward to seeing how the project expands. I have had many an amazing conversation with some incredible Sherlockians (namely meeting Jon Lellenberg earlier this year... he is just such a cool, cool person).
Sherlock has brought me to so many realizations about myself and my life. In particular, how much a story can burrow into our hearts, and then form unbreakable bonds between us and other people. How many people around the world feel like Baker Street is a part of their own lives? (I don't have any stats on this. Happy for anyone to answer haha). But seriously. Meeting other people, geeking out over a story that feels real and ingrained... it forges connections quickly and deeply. Maybe that's a bad thing, maybe that's a good thing. Either way, it IS something that cannot be discounted or denied. The stories that fill our hearts pull us together. And Sherlock is, for me, one of those stories.
So this week, as another season of the BBC's Sherlock airs and I engage with conversations with other fans online, speculating on what could happen is episode 4.3, I am looking back and looking forward at the stories that have filled my heart and mind up. And I am so thankful that 130 years ago, Arthur Conan Doyle decided to write a story about two strangers who became family and their adventures along the way.
*Of course I knew about Sherlock Holmes since I was a little kid. But I had never read through the complete works until 2008.