Coming Out about Obsession

Holmes and Watson lying around on chairs, a newspaper between them.

Sidney Paget’s original watercolor illustration for Arthur Conan Doyle’s story “The Resident Patient.” [public domain]

I am obsessed with Sherlock Holmes. You probably already knew that, so why do I feel the need to “come out” about it? (I say “come out,” because this feels really similar to having a non-assumed sexual orientation.)

I recently saw a colleague’s Facebook post about rereading “The Six Napoleons” in preparation for watching Series 4 of Sherlock. There were so many tips of icebergs packed into that post that I wished I could be as forthcoming about my ideas as she was. But she also said “Yes, I am just that dorky.” I recognized that behavior, the gesture of it, the way I drop my eyes and do a little laugh when I say anything related to Holmes. I realized that I am embarrassed about my obsession.

Why? Am I afraid of the depth of it? I do sense fear there. But when I’m all by myself, I experience only the joy and interest of my obsession. The fear is not of the obsession itself, but rather of its potential social consequences: will people reject me if they find out?

Considering further, I realize that everyone already knows. I write essays entitled “Watson Loves Me.” I watch Sherlock over and over. I listen to audio recordings of Arthur Conan Doyle stories as a way to combat insomnia. The people I care about know these things, and they still like me.

Yeah, says the voice inside, but they don’t know the white hot obsession, they don’t know just how many clock cycles you spend on this, how deep into the water you go.

But you know what? Maybe they do. Lots of people I know are fans of things, so maybe they’re obsessed with those things the way I am obsessed with Sherlock Holmes. Maybe some of them even incorporate Holmes into their personal mythology as much as I do. Hm, I think, maybe not, but that’s the fear again.

I have written here about my obsessions, with Holmes, with Star Trek, and I faced my audience straight on: I stood tall and told the truth without chickening out. That’s because I was writing, and writing’s not worth anything if you chicken out.

I wonder what would happen if I did that in real life, too. I think I might become “more powerful than [I] can possibly imagine.” (Note: I am not obsessed with Star Wars. But lots of people are!)

Obsession is the clock of the universe. I’m going to see what happens if I let it tick out loud.

2 thoughts on “Coming Out about Obsession

  1. I like this writing a lot. I especially liked the part when you evaluate how you feel when you are alone enjoying Holmes. The compete joy you feel. It’s not always easy to recognize or pay attention to this special joy.
    I hope you continue to enjoy your obsession. Be happy you have one. I think many people wish they had an obsession like yours but are not aware that’s what they are wishing for.

    • Thanks, Kelly. I hadn’t thought that maybe other people wish for obsessions without being aware that’s what they’re wishing for. But it’s true that I am happiest when I’m participating in an obsession (I have many), and that sometimes when I’m between obsessions I feel like I’m wishing for something but I don’t know what.
      I appreciate your kind words, and I will try to pay more attention to appreciating the joy of obsession. 🙂

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