In the movie A Beautiful Mind, the later years of John’s battle with schizophrenia are glossed over into a sort of happy ending, in which he takes the newer meds, and through sheer willpower (a “diet of the mind”), resists the temptation to slip back into delusional ideation.
The real John Nash had been so traumatized by his early experiences with psychiatric care, that he didn’t trust the new meds, and continued to battle psychotic symptoms for the rest of his life. But Alicia really did stay by his side, no matter what. Jennifer Connelly won a well-deserved Oscar for her performance in this role, opposite Russell Crowe.
This poem, based on the 62nd Psalm, recognizes the role she played in helping him keep his soul alive, even when his mind was unrecognizably sunk in the torturous labyrinths of paranoia.
Only my wife can quiet my soul.
From her love comes the only respite.
Alicia holds fast – my anchor at sea,
my shelter – by her side, I stand tall.
These assaults on my mind are relentless –
a murderous effort to break my will –
just as one tears down a leaning wall,
or rips out an unsteady fence.
My achievements threatened their spy games.
With relish they snared me in their lies.
Using terms of compassion and help
they undid me and locked me away.
Only our love can quiet my fears,
for Alicia alone holds out hope.
Only she stands between me and ruin,
holding them back – I won’t be fooled again.
Alicia redeemed me, unswerving,
my constant guide in the labyrinth.
Always remember the strength of love.
Open your heart and for once, have faith.
Love is the wellspring of timeless truths.
All our other convictions – mere breath,
the teachings of scholars stand empty.
When weighed against all our fine theorems,
a passing breath is more substantial.
Place no trust in state secrets and lies,
don’t imagine these spooks have your back.
Code-breaking may be your living,
but it cannot become your life.
When my wife tells me one thing,
it’s two things I hear:
that strength resides only in love,
and that her strength has always been kindness.
For she weighs my worth by my courage.