Actually, I didn’t figure anything out.
Sherlock Holmes figured it out. And then John Watson figured it out.
And then it hit me about twelve hours later.
It makes for a rather lengthy story; I’ll make it long enough without being loquacious.
In the last episode of Season 3, “His Last Vow,” Sherlock Holmes solved the riddle that everyone has been asking since the beginning of the series: “How on earth does John Watson get himself entangled in this mess?” He seems like a simple fellow, the sort that would work a 9-5, the sort that would spend his days drinking tea and eating turkey sandwiches and commenting on the weather or sports teams. Typical. Ordinary. Simple. Undramatic. And yet he is best friends with an erratic “high-functioning sociopath” detective, and his wife has just been found out to be a former CIA assassin. John is constantly being dragged on all sorts of crazy adventures, and it is amazing that he waited till this point to ask, “What did I ever do to deserve this?”
Sherlock’s answer. “Everything.”
John naturally looks shocked and a bit put off.
And here are the two thoughts I conclude from the rest of Sherlock’s response.
#1. Responsibility–you did what you did.
While John is blaming the situations and people around him for ruining his peaceful life, Sherlock points the finger right back at the accuser. “Everything–everything you’ve ever done–is what you did.” Just like John, I have made certain choices in my life–both good and bad. And however small, however subtle those choices were, there was always a result. In my sin, I took slow steps away from the straight path, pulled along by a hunger for what lay in the darkness. By God’s grace, I have been taking slow steps back to that path. But should I be surprised that the path is now altered–that now there are twists and turns that never existed, there are mountains and valleys to pass through that were hidden from my sight? Whether I want to believe it or not, my life is the way it is (more or less) because I chose it. No one else is to blame. Maybe I didn’t choose the court, or choose the prison, but I chose the crime that would put me there.
Thus, I have responsibility.
#2. Identity–you are what you are.
Sherlock follows up his comment by adding:
Everything….You were a doctor who went to war. You’re a man who couldn’t stay in the suburbs for more than a month without storming a crack den, beating up a junkie. Your best friend is a sociopath who solves crimes as an alternative to getting high. That’s me, by the way. Hello. Even the landlady used to run a drug cartel. John, you are addicted to a certain lifestyle. You’re abnormally attracted to dangerous situations and people, so is it truly such a surprise that the woman you fall in love with conforms to that pattern?”
Addicted to a certain lifestyle. Drawn to danger. Attracted to darkness….all while wearing the mask of a peace-loving individual with a knack for being normal. John chose to do the things he did willfully….but he chose them because of who he was.
Once again, I can see myself in this mirror. I appear to be simple, peaceful, quiet, and harmonious. That is how others would describe me and how I would describe myself. So how do I get myself in such complicated, dramatic situations? I chose them because that is who I am. I share that attraction to adventure, risk, and danger. I love the thrill of doing the unordinary. If someone tells me it’s impossible, I want to do it just for the love of the game. The people that I am attracted to are brilliant but complicated; they have their share of of inner darkness. All day long, I could listen to their secrets…..the stories of broken travelers with demons so apparent I can hear it in their voices and see it in their walk. I am drawn to them. I have compassion for them. I understand how a darkened mind can lead a person into the shadows–where imagination takes on the form of nightmare and nightmares force themselves into reality. I know because I’ve been there. Should I be ashamed of that?
That’s who I am.
#3. Choice–accept what you did and who you are.
John Watson is left with a choice at the end of that conversation. He can accept the choices he made–to marry his wife, to become a sidekick to an erratic detective–or he can deny both his responsibility and his identity.
I have the same choice.
I made decisions. Will I accept the consequences of them, even if I didn’t ask for the outcome?
I am who I am. Will I accept who I was created to be?
Will you, ordinary as you may seem, accept that your identity may be far more complicated than you think, and that your choices may have led you down an undesired road? Will you accept both your responsibility and your identity?
I finally understand now.
I figured it out.