I arrived home last night at 9:30 pm after taking in the film Mr. Holmes, the story of Sherlock Holmes’ final years in Sussex, England, where he struggled with memory loss as he tried (successfully as we would learn) to recreate his last detective story for the young boy, Roger, his housekeeper’s son.
Although the multi-themed Mr. Holmes might take the viewer in many directions—beekeeping, dementia, loneliness, love, and nature—it is Sherlock Holmes’ method of detection that captivated me.
During the film, I leaned over to my husband and reminded him of the importance of detail in life. Whether he interpreted my whispered observation as a true reaction to the film or as a personal petition, I do not know.
Holmes’ attention to detail is at the epicenter of his sleuthing. In Mr. Holmes, the wasp, the scent of a woman’s perfume, and a glove all lead to his cracking the mystery. He reminds us that missing the meaning of a detail can lead us down the path of uncertainty and fear.
Consider my own detective story, the Mystery of My Right Eye, a vignette that occurred last night after I went to bed still relishing in the beauty of the film I had just enjoyed.
Early this morning, perhaps about 4 am, a throbbing right eye brought me from a deep sleep to consciousness. Even the moisturizing drops I blinked into my sore eye did not assuage the minor but consistent irritation, which plagued me until the dawn broke and the blue jays began their squawking.
I padded into my bathroom and snapped on my lighted mirror, sure that by illuminating and magnifying my eye, the reason for my pain would be apparent. That my eye was not red surprised me. Is my vision still in tact, I wondered?
I put on my glasses to perform a test of my vision and walked downstairs in my slippers to fetch a cup of coffee, sure that a more alert brain would remind my eye to focus. I sat down on my sofa, and began my own optometric exercises, first opening one eye and focusing on an object and then closing it and refocusing.
The vision in my right eye was slightly blurred and I will confess to momentary panic. This less-that-logical approach to problem solving would not go well were Sherlock Holmes on my shoulder.
Back up to my bathroom and that mirror.
There on the sink rested my contact lens case, a bright red ladybug in full spotted regalia. Although not a wasp, it was a clue. It was still open.
Had I removed both of my lenses last night and tucked them into their baths after returning from the show? Of course I had. There they rested on a tissue, dried-up silicone hydrogels, now curling up from the air of the night. This is my routine and there was my evidence.
Mr. Holmes, known for his ability to take a clue to its logical conclusion and solve the mystery, entered my mind.
Would Mr. Holmes have approved of my slowly encroaching fear about an asymmetrical vision problem and a painful eye? No. Stay with logic, he seemed to mysteriously transmute.
I looked with my left eye into my right. No lens, only pain.
Now was the time to apply the Holmesian abductive reasoning: examine the detail and from there draw my hypothesis from which the premises may not necessarily lead to conclusion.
The two contact lenses I wore to the movie lay on the tissue.
I still had a pain in my right eye.
When I put on my glasses, the vision in my right eye was blurred.
Could another contact lens be in my right eye?
I looked again. Nothing.
At that moment, in frustration and I suppose, in reverence to Sherlock Holmes, I put my fingers to my right eye to pull the imaginary lens from it and in doing so, I retrieved a contact lens, one that had been heretofore invisible.
The mystery solved: I had put two contact lenses into my right eye before leaving for the film, the film about detail, memory, and pain.