Sherlock Holmes and Me

I have always enjoyed mysteries, and lately, I have been wondering why I like them so much. So far, the only possible answer I have come up with is that is who I am. I like mysteries because I am a person who likes mysteries. The questions of why lingers, though. Why do I find mysteries so appealing? What is it about mysteries that captures my attention more than any other topic?  Why do I only like riddles if they are ones that make me think for hours and sometimes days?

I do not just simply find mysteries mildly amusing. I am consumed by them. When I watch the TV show Sherlock, I finish the 90-minute episode and then spend the next two to three hours thinking about the show. If I hear or read a casual mention of an unsolved murder, there is a strong likelihood that I will spend hours researching the mystery, trying to figure out who did it. Sometimes, my curiosity towards real-life murders strikes me as too morbid, but I cannot help myself. My brain latches on to these topics and will not let them leave my thoughts.

Last night, I was musing on my personality and the idea of likening myself to a detective kept coming up. Then, it suddenly dawned on me: I suffer from the same affliction Sherlock Holmes does. We both have over active minds, craving something to stimulate it. In Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Sign of Four, Sherlock Holmes describes this condition to his friend, Dr. John Watson:

My mind rebels at stagnation. Give me problems, give me work, give me the most abstruse cryptogram or the most intricate analysis, and I am in my own proper atmosphere. I can dispense then with artificial stimulants. But I abhor the dull routine of existence. I crave for mental exaltation.

Sherlock Holmes hates being bored. His mind always needs a distraction.  When he is left to his own devices, he uses drugs to stimulate his mind, to ease the strain boredom puts on him. On modern-day television, he is portrayed as a recovering drug addict. This is not a completely canonical interpretation. In Doyle's original stories, Sherlock uses drugs to dull the monotony of human existence. When his mind is focused on a case, he does not need the drugs. An addict would still use the drugs to the detriment of his work. There is a slight mention that Sherlock's drug use almost jeopardized his career in "The Mystery of the Missing Three Quarter", but for the most part, Sherlock shows no signs of addiction. He simply needs distraction.

The BBC television series, Sherlock, shows the immense disdain Sherlock Holmes has for idleness quite well in the episode "The Great Game." In the early moments of the episode, Sherlock is shown lazily lounging about in his apartment, shooting his wall with a gun. He stares longingly out the window at the peaceful city of London and mutters, "Look at that, Mrs. Hudson... quiet, calm, peaceful. Isn't it hateful?" The lack of a mystery has caused him to start unraveling.

The madness of idleness is something to which I can relate. My mind needs something to excite it, something with which it can play, or it rebels. I sometimes spend hours pacing around my apartment, mulling over deep, intellectual topics, and I love that about myself. Getting lost in a deep topic is something I crave. When I am able to have a deep conversation with people, I feel great. My closest friends are those with whom I can have these conversations. On the other hand, small talk annoys me beyond measure, and I cannot be close friends with someone who is incapable in engaging me in deep conversation.

This need to stimulate my brain can sometimes cause my personal and professional lives to suffer. If a friend is not engaging me in deep conversation, I am less likely to invest in that friendship. As a result, I try less in that friendship. Other times, I overanalyze my relationships. I spend time wondering if a friend really likes me or not. When it comes to dating, I sometimes miss out on dating someone because I spend too much time analyzing the girl before deciding to ask her out, and I have, on occasion, thought too much about a girl and ended up convincing myself I should not ask a girl out when it would have been a good idea to ask her out. Furthermore, my desire to engage my brain in a worthy manner makes having a career difficult for me. Slightly over a year ago, I graduated from college. For three years, I had worked for a bachelor's degree in business administration, yet as graduation grew nearer and nearer, I found myself not interested in going into that field. I spent that summer trying to figure out what to do with my life and feeling down about myself. I was bored and directionless, much like Sherlock Holmes in between cases.

To keep myself from feeling like I was wasting my time, I began watching informational videos on YouTube and flirting with idea of making my career like those YouTubers I admired (CGP Grey, Numberphile, VSauce, etc.). I also began working through audiobooks of the Sherlock Holmes and Father Brown canons. I was also writing about Batman TV shows and wound up with a gig writing about the Minnesota Vikings.

As my writing opportunities expanded, I decided to pursue that for a career. I actually completed a first draft for a mystery novel around Christmas-time. But, the task of revising it was a difficult one, and the story I had engineered failed to stay entertaining for the entirety of the 100,000+ words I had written for it. Shortly after beginning my revisions, I abandoned the project. 

Several months later, I find myself in the same position. I have just finished the first draft of a book on the life of Saint Eugène de Mazenod, and I am struggling with the revision process. However, unlike the mystery novel, I actually am quite proud of the first draft and have a strong desire to see it published. Yet, I find myself without the necessary drive to seriously work at revising it. No longer does this project capture my attention. I find myself questioning my current aim in life. Am I really meant to write about religious topics as I have been thinking for the past few months?

My mind is searching for something to capture its attention. I do not want to tame the beast that is my mind; I want to feed it. My desire is to satisfy this craving I have for deep thought by finding a career that satisfies my brain. I want to explore questions that demand a noble and satisfying effort to find an answer. Maybe I can find topics within the Faith that satisfy my desire to investigate and explore, but until I find such a topic, I will, like Sherlock Holmes, battle the "dull routine of existence."


Alex HeyComment