A Beautiful Mind

I still remember vividly 3 people that told me to watch the movie A Beautiful Mind. I do not want to give names but I will tell you some background about them and about the event when they told me to watch the movie.

  • A woman who I used to train in programming – Why she thought of recommending me the movie was I guess maybe my teaching reminded her of the movie. Many of things I was teaching her did not come from a book of techniques on how to do certain simple programming algorithms. But I just based everything from the programming language manual or reference book. When encountered with a problem, I just come up with a solution with the known functions I have. And in the middle of teaching her, she tells me: “You know what? If you learn this other language, I think you will do good to. Have you watched A beautiful mind?” I said no and she told me i should watch it.
  • A priest who was in a small group of parishioners in a somewhat prayer group – This once a month meeting of this group at church would read the readings and Gospel of the Catholic religion for the week of that meeting and reflect on it giving their own reflections and then do some prayer afterwards. As we were seated in a circle as everyone was sharing their reflections and sometimes the priest would call out someone to share just to make them share when no one else volunteers. When I was called, I simply said, I have nothing to say with a smile. And the members of the group were encouraging me to say something, any reflection I had and maybe they were assuming I was shy. And all I said was everyone said everything already. During that time was also the birthday celebration of some of the members and after the meeting was a mini party just eating some specially prepared food. And while I was sitting and talking with one of the members who was my long time friend, the priest sits near us but no one was talking. And just to break the ice, I told the priest: “Fr., the reason I had no reflection to share to anyone was because my reflection is so different that it might change the minds of many. And I do not want to influence them.” The priest got intrigued and asked more about it, although I made it clear that my reflection is not against any teaching and even augments it better, but many of my reflections involve a lot of science and our conversation went on and on. And the priest was not contradicting my ideas but seemed amazed with what I had to say. But since he was busy and needed to talk to many people, he ended our conversation saying: “Have you watched the movie A Beautiful Mind?” Again I said no and the priest highly recommended it saying: “You should watch it, it is good for analytical thinking, for intellectuals.” And all I said was, ok, I will watch it someday.
  • Someone I used to work with in a company – It was lunch time and in this company I used to work straight without breaks and my lunch was only 30 minutes or less. Maybe I was trying to impress the company then since I was still new in the company but as time passed by, I knew I was over working myself and was starting to take my breaks to the maximum possible time. And during lunch, I would eat fast, and after eating, I solve a Sudoku puzzle trying to solve it quickly and was challenging myself every time to finish it within my required break time. And he was watching me solve it just writing numbers and he asked: “Are you solving that?” And I said yes and he says: “But you should not repeat a number on a line…” and continues on telling me about all the rules of the puzzle. And I say, yes, I know, and he says: “And you are not using a pencil? What if the numbers are wrong?” And I say, well they are right. “And if I am not sure with the answer, I do not write it down.” And he asks: “How sure are you that those are right?” And I say: “Where am I wrong?” Looks like he can’t point it out either, but was wondering why I was solving it fast, and he then asks: “Have you finished any of these?” And I said: “Yes, I just finished one here, but this is at level easy.” Then he says: “You should watch A Beautiful Mind.” And I say: “You know what? You are the third person that told me that.” And he says: “You should, if you are solving Sudoku that fast just by looking at it, that movie is for you.”

Ok, all of those were some number of years ago already. And here comes the opportunity to watch it. I finally decided to watch the movie. I just finished watching the movie and is making this blog post right after watching it. All I can say is, these three people that were very enthusiastic in telling me to watch the movie, like there was some great mission to watch it, for me is just a so-so movie. Not really a big deal. It had nothing to do with thinking, it had nothing to do with analyzing things in the movie which I was expecting this movie to be a thinking movie. Something that was like solving a puzzle or something. It is nothing but a drama movie of the life of Dr. John Nash.

Now before I continue, do not get me wrong that I am saying this movie is not a good movie. It is in fact a great movie with 4 Academy Awards, and Dr. John Nash is one of the greatest mathematicians also. But all I am saying is this movie had nothing to do with the reason I was told to watch it.

  • Do they think I am a great thinker, some analyst like John Nash? I believe not, I am just Benj Arriola. Although I may like the sciences, my knowledge is no where close to anyone with a PhD in Math or any natural science. None of my college professors nor classmates would say that. But these people that told me to watch it had no science degree background as well. Although these things may seem simple to many people that do the same things I do, but for the unknowledgeable, they think I am doing something great already. It is just like an ordinary person that finds a medical doctor smart simply because they are not knowledgeable, but among the peers of doctors, some doctors are just simple doctors like any other doctor. Let’s say Pacquiao is admired by many boxers, but Pacquiao admires Efren Bata Reyes’ billiard skills because he is less skill than Efren Bata is. These people that told me to watch the movie maybe thought that I should watch the movie because I am smart or something, I think not. I am just the ordinary Benj that just knew a little extra of what they did not know and I am sure they also know something I don’t.
  • Do they think I have the potential to think of something great? Well I think yes in small stuff, but not as the magnitude as shown in the movie. A total disconnect, but for the people that may have thought of it that way, well all I can say is thanks. But I am sure they themselves have their own great potentials in themselves that maybe they just haven’t seen yet.
  • Do they think I am thinking too much that I am going nuts? Hahaha maybe. Nyhahahahaha. Well many great thinkers really go nuts sometimes. When I was in college, I can think of 2 professors that were nearly by the borderline of going nuts. One of them reads NMR spectra as if she was reading a book of fairly tails and gives the summary already looking at these 2D graphs in crazy lines. The other was an excellent physicist, that at the end of every class, her clothes look like it was used to erase the whole blackboard. I have heard about another professor that I was not a student of and was in another neighboring school that dragged his chalk box on a string and would walk backwards on stairs. But all of them had this incredible mathematical ability.

To me the movie is nothing but a feel good movie of triumph. It is not different from a sports oriented movie when someone starts out losing in the beginning and starts working on their weaknesses and becomes triumphant in the end. And along the way, the movie highlights all the drama involved in this quest for success. In some movies it can be a game of basketball, football, karate match, whatever, but in this case, it was with one’s own mind in dealing with schizophrenia. Generally, I like the movie. It is good. I loved watching it because of the drama of success, and overcoming weaknesses, but I would not say I would love the movie because it is for thinkers and analytical thinking. The movie does not go into that details. It is not about the specific computations John Nash had in his life. It was all about John Nash’s life, his personal life and problems and how he dealt with it.