It was 2001.
I was 25.
I watched A Beautiful Mind.
It was my first exposure to John Nash.
This movie affected me in profound ways.
It was a story about love…the dialogue made me gasp in hopes of finding a love like Alicia and John.
Alicia: How big is the universe?
Alicia: How do you know?
Nash: I know because all the data indicates it’s infinite.
Alicia: But it hasn’t been proven yet.
Alicia: You haven’t seen it.
Alicia: How do you know for sure?
Nash: I don’t, I just believe it.
Alicia: It’s the same with love I guess.
It was a story about learning…the dialogue gave me hope.
Nash: Classes will dull your mind, destroy the potential for authentic creativity.
It was a story about hope…the dialogue provided warmth.
Alicia: I need to believe, that something extraordinary is possible.
It was a story about beauty…the dialogue encouraged viewers to see the world in a different way.
Alicia: God must be a painter. Why else would we have so many colors?
It was a story about being different in a world that has clearly defined expectations for normal. Maybe, in some ways, the movie was preparing me for a life in the spectrum world.
Upon learning about his death today I couldn’t help but to read more about him and I was struck by an article written by Sylaiva Nasar in the November 13, 1994 issue of The New York Times. She wrote, “Alicia Nash believed very firmly, according to several people close to her, that Mr. Nash should live at home and stay within Princeton’s mathematics community even when he was not functioning well. Martha Legg applauds her decision. “Being in Princeton was good for him,” said Mrs. Legg. “In a place like Princeton, if you act strange, you’re special. In Roanoke, if you act strange, you’re just different. They didn’t know who he was here.””
I couldn’t help but to think of Tucker and others who have Autism Spectrum Disorders.
I couldn’t help but think of the reason I write.
I began writing to help create a common understanding within the community that Tucker currently resides within. Now, it seems I write to create a common understanding within communities around the world.
More from Ms. Nasar, “Roger Lewin, a psychiatrist in Baltimore, agrees. “Some people are so disturbed that there is no way to get in touch with them, but for a significant group, compassion and receptivity of the surrounding community make all the difference.””
Throughout this blog I have used the words, ‘awareness and acceptance’ now I find myself comparing those two words to compassion and receptivity. It’s really the same – compassion in another’s differences and being receptive to those differences.
I see this compassion and receptiveness every day in our community. I continue to advocate so that Tucker (and so many others like him) can live in a community where if he acts strange, he’s special – not different.
Ms. Nasar then quoted De Larde (Alicia Nash) “it’s just a question of living a quiet life.”
When I read those words I lost my breath. Living a quiet life…
A life simply lived…a quiet life. A life that is not full of surprises – yet, lived by a man who surprised people regularly.
Tucker’s life. A life lived simply, and quietly. A life that is not full of surprises – yet, lived by a boy who surprises people regularly.
How lucky we are to have these very special people in our world…and within our midst.
Pay tribute to John Nash…have a conversation with someone who has a beautiful mind.