“Elementary,” Said He

Reading is my obsession. 

It is an addiction, a fixation, a passion in my life. Without relent, reading has been something I spend more time doing than is likely considered healthy. During college, it was easy to tell I had an important paper, project or exam soon because I could be found reading a book from start to finish within days of the due date. You know, just for fun. Just because I had time to “spare.”

From jennamalinen.theworldrace.org
I often pretend there is nothing pressing in my life and I read until the very last moment. On rainy days I can be found snuggled into the couch, latest novel in hand. I drink something hot, wrap myself in a blanket and get lost in another world.

If I start a book that I enjoy, I shall be the most introverted, anti-social person to ever walk this planet until I’m finished. There’s no reasoning with me, no convincing me to do anything in the real world until the one I’m engrossed in is gone, and the tale ended.

When I was an adolescent I would go to the public library and check out over a dozen books every few weeks. Books on language, religion, history, myth, poetry – whatever piqued my interest that day. I wanted to know everything, wanted to read it all.

One of the most difficult things about the World Race for me was not reading. Forget being sweaty and uncomfortable, disregard the stares and awkward conversations – they were not nearly as unfortunate as not reading. Not reading was dreadful. At times, I felt trapped without any escape, stuck behind this fence.

From jennamalinen.theworldrace.org

A few years ago, I found what have become my favorite stories. I dropped off the face of the Earth to read them. To me, they were (and actually still are) the best thing since sliced bread. Better than chai tea lattes. Better than Peter Pan, The Bell Jar, or Harry Potter.

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in all his brilliance, created the greatest stories I’ve ever absorbed.

I flew through both volumes of the complete works of Sherlock Holmes last summer, engrossed in them, obsessed with them, fascinated by them. Absolutely riveted.

Holmes is the best detective in the entire world. Sure, he’s fictional, but let’s be honest, if he were real, every government would be dying for his skill set. He always knows the answer and can follow clues that other people don’t pick up on.  He can see things that everyone else misses.

From jennamalinen.theworldrace.org
The way his mind works astounds me and by the end of each tale I am flabbergasted. Floored by his brilliance and the way that the story takes place, I wonder how I missed each bit of evidence. I’m continually dumbfounded by the tales that Doyle has created and the ability of his protagonist.

It’s fiction that splendidly falls into the place between reality and dreaming. The locations are real; I can just imagine Holmes and Watson wandering the streets of London, residing at their apartment on Baker Street.

Sherlock is a character whose abilities are bordering on miraculous, whose mind is balancing the fine line between genius and madness. And Doyle? Oh, he is the mastermind behind it all, the one who holds my attention and demands the continuation of it. I’m walking down this path that I cannot diverge from.

From jennamalinen.theworldrace.org
Once upon a time, in Kenya, I went to see the second Sherlock Holmes movie. And, as you can imagine, I loved it. Yes, the books are better than the movies, and no, the movies don’t follow any one story line exactly, but the adaptation is brilliant and Robert Downey Jr. makes my dreams come true when he depicts Holmes. So I’m in.

It was during that film I realized one of the reasons I adore these stories. Yes, I love the way that Doyle writes, but there’s more to it than that.

It has been my discovery that Holmes, and to a greater extent Doyle, remind me of God. The way that Watson and I (as the reader) are always a step behind Holmes, discovering things after he does, is a lot like my life.

I cannot tell you how many times God has brought me down a path that I haven’t understood, revealing things to me one at a time. With a hindsight bias of 20/20, it’s easy to see where the pieces fit together, how they were working for good, and what happened. When Holmes finishes a case and has come to a conclusion, he will piece all of the evidence together for Watson, for the Scotland Yard, and for me.

Generally, this is the moment when I freak out.
I audibly gasp, physically shake my head, or verbally declare his brilliance.

It’s like he’s pointing right at me, wondering why I didn’t understand. For a moment it bothers me, and then I realize that he’s Sherlock freaking Holmes and I’m simply not that brilliant.

From jennamalinen.theworldrace.org

In “A Scandal in Bohemia”, Sherlock remarks to Watson,
“You see, but you do not observe. The distinction is clear.”

When God lets me in at the end of a story, that’s how I feel. Like I could see, but I was missing out on the obvious things that led me to that point. Like all of a sudden, my eyes are able to pick up on something that was right in front of me and I couldn’t focus on. It’s a Voila! kind of moment.

The thing is – God doesn’t care that I couldn’t see the end; he was the one leading me by the hand all along, unmasking evidence piece by piece. I get to trust him as he leads me through the windy, foggy streets of life.

I imagine up in Heaven God will do a fist pump and say, “By Jove, she’s got it!”
And when we’re at the end of it, I’ll get to look back and shake my head at his brilliance.

*All photos were taken by me, except the bookstore picture. 

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