Sunday Snippet: Sherlock Holmes on Fear

“Fear is wisdom in the face of danger. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt once taught us that we had nothing to fear but fear itself, except that’s not completely true. We shouldn’t be afraid of fear, as it is a perfectly natural response and it can prove to be remarkably useful. As Sherlock Holmes might say, it’s elementary, my dear Watson. Read on if it’s convenient. If it’s not convenient, read on anyway.

Even though he may be presented as something of an misanthrope, disconnected from emotion and the human experience, Sherlock Holmes offers some tremendous insight into what it means to be a human. Maybe that’s why he is able to “read” people so well, jumping to amazing conclusions based on the slightest of clues. And it’s not that he is afraid of adventure or risk or scary situations; in fact, he thrives in them.

A little over a week ago, the special holiday episode of BBC’s Sherlock, The Abominable Bride, was unleashed upon the world and I was immediately drawn to the quote at the top of today’s post. Faced with a bride who has apparently risen from the dead to shoot her husband in the dark of the night, Sherlock shows no fear. He shows steadfast determination, intrigued by the complexities of the case.

But make no mistake. Sherlock Holmes — whether we’re talking about the original character as created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or the newest incarnation played brilliantly by Benedict Cumberbatch here — is afraid. This fear can drive his focus and empower him to make bold decisions to solve the case.

The next time you are faced with a scary situation, be it physical or emotional, take solace in understanding that there is no shame in fear. You simply must learn how to channel that fear into something useful and productive. And yes, that’s even if you have a shotgun-wielding undead bride roaming the streets of London with a trigger-happy finger ready to haunt your drug-induced nightmares.

Come now. The game is afoot.