Conan Doyle is remembered as the creator of Sherlock Holmes, the most popular detective ever.
That’s success in anyone’s book, and most would be pretty pleased about this achievement, cracking open a bottle – but not Sir Arthur.
He wished to be remembered as a writer of historical fiction and as a trail blazer of the spiritualist movement. Sherlock was almost an embarrassment and he killed him off as soon as he could.
(The success of Poirot was a similar source of embarrassment to Agatha Christie.)
Why is this?
I remember listening to an actor who had played a significant role in a long running TV series. It had made him world famous. But he regarded it as a prison.
In interviews, he’d prefer to talk about other, less famous, roles. He felt boxed in by his success, he couldn’t receive it as gift in any way at all; in fact, though it had opened many doors for him, it appeared to make him angry.
I suppose we all have an image of ourselves; an image of how we wish the world to see us. And maybe we get angry if the world doesn’t obey.
‘This is how I want to be known!’
I had a friend at university who said that when he walked into a pub, he wanted people to see him as ‘an enigma’.
This was how he wished to be viewed, the fantasy he cherished, and while it appears rather needy, he’s not so different from the rest of us.
So, what is your dream in front of the bathroom mirror?
Sometimes people say to me, ‘I like to think I’m a caring sort of a person’ or ‘I like to think I can be relied upon’ or ‘I like to think I’m pretty self-aware’ etc etc.
What we ‘like to think about ourselves’ is almost always a delusion. It may be a delusion that is keeping us going; but that doesn’t mean it’s true.
For this reason, I think it’s healthy to stay clear of all labels, whether wished for by ourselves or given to us by others.
They appear to offer us some sense of value in the world but they are dismal companions and punish us constantly.
Instead, we get up in the morning and we are space; a blank canvass awaiting fresh colours.
Our genius lies in being nothing – or no thing. The more space we bring to our adventures the better.
Space gives no scaffolding for the ego to play on; and allows gratitude and openness a hundred doorways into our day.
So, we breathe deep into space.
When we are not protecting or promoting an image, when there are no pre-conditions concerning how we are perceived or received – then we are free.
I am sad to this day Sir Arthur couldn’t be grateful for the marvellous creation that was Sherlock Holmes…
… but wary of similar behaviours in myself.