His name is Clive Wearing. He was an accomplished musician and conductor in Britain, in his mid-forties and at the height of his career when, in 1985, he contracted herpes encephalitis (the virus that causes cold-sores in the mouth). For some inexplicable reason, though, the virus affected him in a profoundly abnormal way. Essentially, it attacked his brain-specifically the hippocampus-causing a condition known as anterograde amnesia.
The general affect of anterograde amnesia (it's extremely rare) is the inability to form new memories. Amnesia is generally construed as the "erasing" of memories (i.e. amnesiacs often cannot remember a specific period in their life). Anterograde amnesia is substantially different in that there is really no erasure of memories. Rather, it's as though the goings-on of the moment are almost immediately forgotten. Imagine a computer with only RAM memory (that is, memory that is lost every time the computer is shut down), and no hard drive. All the work done is a particular session at the computer would be completely erased immediately on completion.
Such is Clive Wearings mind. He is said to keep a diary, and the diary has entries such as:
8:31 AM: Now I am really, completely awake. 9:06 AM: Now I am perfectly, overwhelmingly awake.
9:34 AM: Now I am superlatively, actually awake.
Page after page of these entries exist in the diary. And as he goes to create a new entry, he crosses out the prior entry, in that he has no recollection of having written it, thus he thinks it to be innaccurate. He purportedly greets his wife (whom he married one year prior to contracting this ailment) enthusiastically every time he sees her, even if she stepped out for only an hour to go to the grocery store, because the last time he recalls seeing her is in 1985.
Such is Clive Wearings life.
I listened as they told me about Clive, and then read about him on the internet, and, I'm ashamed to say, there was a small part of me that envied him. Because, as I implied yesterday, the inadequacies and sins of the past tend to follow us; no, not follow, to rest heavily on our shoulders. And the deeper we get into life, the more there is to carry. Until we find ourselves almost paralyzed, so completely weighed down by our past, that we can never experience our future.
And, oh, what I wouldn't give, on those days when the load of failures past is too much for my weary mind, and hope is all but obliterated-what I wouldn't give on those days to have Clive Wearings problem. Because every so often, as his mind resets itself, he starts a new life. The desperation and hopelessness-the trappings of the past, are wiped away, and his mind is, for some short period of time, filled with wonder and hope for a future that is unmarred by sins of the past.
But, alas, we're not given that luxury. We are forced to live with ourselves. And so, while I struggle, always, to be a better man, my primary struggle must be to do as Paul said:
"...forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize..." -Philippians 3:13-14
Dan Zadra made a profound statement:
"Resentment is one burden that is incompatible with your success. Always be the first to forgive; and forgive yourself first always."
You see, I think I was probably right when I wrote, some time back, in a post entitled "Forgive Us...As We Forgive" that choosing to forgive releases one from the burden of hurt and grief. It's true in forgiving others, and it's true in forgiving ourselves.
So, take a lesson from Clive Wearing: forget the stuff that follows you around and drags you down. Use it only as a steppingstone to a higher level, but don't ever let it drown your hope. Because, as Proverbs 13:12 states:
"Hope deferred maketh the heart sick..."