Numb3rs is a brilliant program and some of the most human television I have ever enjoyed. The relationship between the precociously brilliant and very young Charles/Charlie and Don, his elder brother, can be brilliant viewing. Charlie is a mathematician at ‘CalSci’ when we meet him, having got his PhD at 16, the same day his brother Don graduated high school. Don is an FBI ‘special agent’ (and they all seem to be ‘special’, don’t they?) . Add Judd Hirsch as the father, and you have a truly interesting triangle.
The exchange I quote in the subject line above grabbed my attention. The details of why Charlie could not get to the task Don wanted him to do is not material to what I want to talk about here. Time and our relationship to it is what I want to discuss.
Because Charlie was not able to get onto the problem that Don needed an answer to, he experienced an immense pressure, partly from his own perception that he was procrastinating and partly because he did not want to grapple with the question itself, because its implications in the outer world, the messy non-mathematical Reality (reality spelled this way courtesy of Anthony Wilden) were manifesting in dangerous ways. This episode reveals the shortcomings of decisions made on the basis of mathematical modelling and its limitations were becoming painfully apparent. Again, this detail is not particularly germane to what we’re talking about here; the mismatch between the conceptual modelling of the world and what the world actually does must be painfully clear to everyone who can think or read! I mention it because everyone can relate a similar experience.
Don’s answer to Charlie’s apology is simple and brilliant. As Eckhart Tolle wrote in his book The power of now, there is only now. All the resistance that we experience in our mind to what is happening or what we want to happen (but which is not happening) or what we wish were not happening, is all purely mental in its construction. Most people are not aware that the resistance and the irritation and/or anger or any of the other emotions that are created in the body as a result of what’s going on in the mind at the time is not real. It is simply just what going on in the mind at the time. And if readers have ever spent some time meditating you all know that most of the time the mind is an extremely busy place and it just keeps generating ideas, concepts, and whatever emotions are attached to those. Experiencing resistance is always mental resistance to what’s actually happening now.
Charles had come to Don in quite a state in this particular episode. Don’s reply, “No, now is good” is simple, is 100% percent accurate, it immediately disarmed Charlie’s internal state, and is perfectly aligned with the dharma. Now is perfect.