I opened my first ever mystery novel at the age of 12. The pocketbook version of The Hound of Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle–it was a gift from the kind Amazon seller who was astonished by my buying 7 Thea Stilton books all at once. Although the point of the purchase was indeed the Thea Stilton books, it was The Hound of Baskervilles that I had brought to school with me. It was small and therefore perfectly possible to be made invisible from the vision of teachers during lessons. My adventures with Mr. Sherlock Holmes had thus begun.
I could hardly call myself a sensible person at twelve years old. At the time, my judgments were mainly driven by my emotions, for I was still young enough to fall for the idea that good things would happen when I allowed “my feelings [to] decide”–the aspiration of Princess Rosella from Barbie, otherwise known as the Island Princess. Weighing the pros and cons of my actions was an alien concept to me; I cannot remember a single instance where I swapped my urge for the logical thing to do at that age.
Sherlock Holmes brought a new light to my life. His analytical mind, the calm demeanor in which he conducted his many deductions, as well as his persistent pursuit for the truth inspired me to seek the truth in my own life; I started to analyze the reason behind my actions and ask myself whether I was really doing the right thing or simply trying to justify doing what I wanted to do. Similar to how the truth is often harsh and sometimes hard to believe in Conan Doyle’s many stories, the reality of many of my desires was selfish and thoughtless at its core. As I read more of Sherlock Holmes stories, I slowly started to recognize this brutal reality. For the first time in my life, I had been introduced to logic and reason.
It is fair to say that Sherlock Holmes had called me to action–the action of giving up my instincts to serve as the determining factors of my decisions. Agatha Christie’s detective Hercule Poirot, on the other hand, had taught me something different. At first, I despised the character Poirot, for he was the total opposite of Sherlock Holmes, a character I admired. Poirot’s approach to his cases was vastly different from Holmes. Unlike how Holmes was often eager to leap to action, Poirot solved many mysteries without leaving his armchair. His lack of respect for examining footprints and collecting cigarette ashes initially aroused my annoyance–as a teenager, a detective story without physical combat with the villain was simply too dry for me.
Yet his lack of action did the job. As I read on, I realized that a detective story without too much action still made a good story and had just as much ingeniousness. I found myself starting to enjoy Poirot’s style of work and even went as far as experimenting it in my own life. I told myself to not jump to action and instead tried to be a calm observer, an outsider, or an evaluator who witnessed the unfolding of events around me. I had learned, with pleasant surprise, that my life had just as much value without reacting to every little detail around me. I thought and reflect a lot more often than I acted. Somehow, subconsciously, Poirot had taught me how to be cautious.
One may argue that becoming rational and cautious is simply a part of growing up, that I would have learned these lessons elsewhere eventually if Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot were never part of my life. This may be true, however I do not regret a single bit they were my mentors, for I cannot think of a more enjoyable way to mature.