"Where would you hold it?" he wrote, of my idea for an open invitation. "Attendance would be much larger than it is now. Arrangements would have to made beforehand for a suitable venue and yet how would you know how many would attend if you had no limit. And what kind of program would you offer that would entertain old-timers, neophytes, learned Sherlockians, fringe Sherlockians, and spouses with only a little interest in Holmes?"
Paul is correct, I didn't answer all of those questions. And he's not the first to respond with such questions when I bring up the subject of an open and democratic B.S.I. (Nobody ever seems to question the "democratic" part, for some reason.) They are quite practical questions. And the Baker Street Irregulars is a society and a tradition held so dear by many that they are naturally afraid of anything that might upset the apple cart . . . especially a big, dramatic change like going inclusive, instead of exclusive.
I can understand that. Most people don't have my penchant for walking into the unknown. And let's be honest, one of the reasons that I've never been as enchanted with the B.S.I. dinner as many is that it doesn't take risks, tends to like its own past more than the present, and has all those members that decry whatever the suggested change is. Letting women in. Holding the dinner in a different city now and then. (Hey, what about simultaneous dinners on both sides of the country? We have the technology!) Open invitations.
But you know what, all of the questions Paul raises can be answered. They can be dealt with, and open invitations could happen. Look at everything Michael Whelan has accomplished since taking the reins of the group. Look at what the men who came before him accomplished. Look at any Sherlockian event, any Sherlockian society . . . even those awful amateur pastiches people love to complain about . . . every single accomplishment in the Sherlockian world was made real because so many Sherlockians are hard workers with imagination and some real problem-solving skills.
And what was our beloved inspiration so fond of saying?
"Once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbably, must be the truth."
Think about that for a second. Once you have eliminated the impossible. An open B.S.I. is not impossible. It therefore cannot be eliminated. It therefore, could, however improbably, become the truth.
Paul's letter came at the perfect moment for me, having just finished the weekend of my little dinner theater and its two shows. A cast of nearly thirty. Dance numbers. Doing the catering ourselves. A lot of people leaving their comfort zones to do things they never saw themselves doing, maybe even thought impossible. And none of it would have been possible without getting people willing to step outside the status quo.
The B.S.I. will do what its leaders want. I'm just a member who doesn't come to many meetings, who has an opinion, and I know I'm not the target demographic. But let's never put limits on ourselves as Sherlockians. Let's eliminate the impossible so we can see that's what is left is possible, however improbable.
Oh, and thanks to all those new Sherlockians out there who are already showing us new vistas of the possible, every single day. You're making this aging Sherlockian very proud of our fandom.