Colin wakes up in the morning, exhausted, and descends the stairs to find Hassan going over profit and loss margins. He asks Colin if he hooked up with Lindsey and congratulates him for circling her like a vulture. Having decided to go out to breakfast at Hardee’s, they call to Lindsey to wake her up. She says she can’t go because she is visiting Mabel that morning. Colin confides in Hassan that according to the Theorem, Lindsey is going to dump him in four days.
Hassan continues to be a jokester despite his newfound productivity, demonstrating that it is possible to grow more mature while maintaining a sense of humor as a core part of one’s identity. Colin is still tied up in the idea of the Theorem as a “genius” predictor for his future. The extent to which he cares about the Theorem impedes his ability to surrender himself to the new possibilities of his relationship with Lindsey.
The day the Theorem indicates as the day Lindsey will break up with Colin, he wakes up to a note from Lindsey telling him she is dumping him for Hassan. “P.S.,” it says, “Just kidding.” He wants to be happy but is still disappointed that the Theorem doesn’t work to predict relationships because it means he is not as special as everyone once thought.
Colin’s friend and girlfriend conspire to show Colin that his Theorem is nothing but a self-fulfilling prophecy. Colin’s disappointment shows that he has not yet fully grasped how to let go of the importance he places on arbitrary markers of success.
The next day, Colin works on the Theorem some more while Hassan and Lindsey play poker. Suddenly, he realizes that while it is possible to write equations explaining why a poker hand was won or lost, it is impossible to write an equation to predict future poker hands. The past can be a logical story, but the future is unpredictable by any Theorem. Colin says “Eureka” to himself. He shares his realization that the future is unpredictable, and Hassan teases him for stating the obvious.
Colin’s second “Eureka” moment is not exactly a rejection of the Theorem that came out of his first “Eureka” moment. Rather, he realizes that the Theorem has helped him make sense of his past but that he can’t use it to make sense of his future. He thus realizes that even a “failure” can result in an unexpected achievement—in this case, new perspective on how to live a fulfilling life.
Colin continues to think about how the future threatens to swallow everyone up eventually. Lindsey’s stories, on the other hand, are a big part of why he likes and even loves her already; stories might be “the only way to the infinite mattering he’d been after for so long.” Unlike individuals, stories are remembered. Colin decides that having the right graph for Katherine III from the beginning proves that the brain has room for “knowing what cannot be remembered.” He realizes that without noticing, the graphs in his notebook have switched over to writing. He looks up and asks if Hassan and Lindsey want to go get a burger.
Colin’s newfound reverence for stories leads him to think about his life less in the relatively rigid terms of math but rather through language, which consists solely of twenty-six rearrangeable letters but nonetheless contains endless possibilities, which Colin himself knows because he is constantly rearranging the letters into anagrams. Colin’s abandonment of the notebook in order to ask his friends to go to lunch shows that Colin is surrendering himself to the unpredictable potential of the stories contained in his own life instead of wasting his life trying to plot out what will happen next.
Walking out to the Hearse with Lindsey and Hassan, nothing much happens, but Colin knows he will remember it because it is “thick with mattering.” As Colin drives, they decide to break habit by going to Wendy’s instead of Hardee’s. Colin looks at the road and thinks about “the space between what we remember and what happened, the space between what we predict and what will happen.” He realizes there is room there for him to reinvent himself as anything, even a genius. In any case, he realizes, he can’t stop the future from coming. Lindsey turns to Colin and says they could just keep going instead of stopping at Wendy’s. Colin and Hassan agree. Colin feels connected to everyone in and out of the car and “not-unique in the very best possible way.”
That Colin is driving in the Hearse with Lindsey and Hassan shows that he has not stopped thinking of his life as a story ending with death, but he has now accepted that all he can do is make the best of the journey along the way. He chooses to share that journey with both Lindsey and Hassan, and has learned to find comfort in being one among a crowd rather than being unique. This shift in attitude shows that instead of feeling like a lonely and incomplete person constantly trying to compete, Colin now feels like one complete and growing person among many.