In one of the Sherlock Holmes books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (I don’t remember which one, and I don’t feel like looking through all of them right now to find it), Holmes was headed out to do some work on a case and asked Watson if he would like to come along. Watson said he would if he could be of some use, and Holmes told him, “A trusty comrade is always of use.”
If you’re at all familiar with Sherlock Holmes, you probably know that he’s not at all a sentimental character. And that’s a great understatement. He’s not, for the most part, unkind, but he doesn’t have the same yearning for attachments to others that most of us do.
And yet… that comment! It’s probably one of my favorite quotes about friendship (though admittedly, that would be a long list). It’s quite insightful.
Even when we don’t really need help, having “a trusty comrade” around is always useful. Fun things are more fun when we have a good friend there to laugh with. Hard things are just a bit easier when we know someone has our back.
We may not think we need anyone’s help, even that of our friends. But what would Sherlock Holmes have been without Dr. John Watson? Holmes was brilliant. All that knowledge stored in his head, all his observational powers, all his powerful intuition. Watson was quiet, unassuming. Smart in his own way, but certainly not brilliant. What could Holmes need from Watson?
Well, for starters, someone to help pay the rent. He was introduced to Watson by a mutual friend who knew they were both in iffy financial situations.
He soon discovered that sometimes having someone around to talk to about his ideas helped him set them straight in his head.
There were several occasions where he needed Watson’s revolver and someone to help sit quietly through long, dark vigils.
Although he did not appreciate Watson’s accounts of his cases – they didn’t focus on the deduction processes enough for him – it was that exposure that brought many of his clients to him.
Somewhere along the way, the two of them became friends instead of just colleagues. One of my favorite parts is in one of the last books, where Watson is injured. It’s the most emotion you ever see in Holmes; he’s worried, and he fusses a little over Watson. From Holmes, that’s the equivalent of panic from a normal person.
Those two have one of my favorite fictional friendships, even if it is a bit unorthodox.
I have a few trusty comrades of my own. Unfortunately, they live far away; I can’t be physically near them most of my life. But most of this week has been and will be spent visiting them. And even though we can’t usually drag each other along on our cases, my trusty comrades are always of use, and I’m more thankful for them than I can say.