In The Journal of Neuroscience, there was a man referred to as E.P. He was an 84-year-old retired lab technician. E.P. suffered from one of the most severe cases of amnesia ever documented. In his case, his amnesia was so bad he could only recall his most recent thought. So questions like, “Who is the President?” or “What did you have for dinner?” would be completely unknown to him. In the book Moonwalking with Einstein, Joshua Foer describes his encounter with E.P. and the amnesia he suffered.
When Joshua met with E.P. they decided to go on a walk. As they went on the walk the author observed several different things that were interesting about him. E.P. would go on the same route every time he went on a walk, yet if you were to ask E.P. to draw the map of where he would walk, he had no idea the route he went on. Often when he would walk, he found something. By the time he got home, as he was holding the object, he had no idea how he got what he had in his hand. As he passed by his neighbors, he would reintroduce himself to his them every single time as though they were complete strangers. As E.P. and Joshua concluded their walk, E.P. returns home to a place he doesn’t even recall is his own, walks down a street he doesn’t know the name of, and past neighbors he just met but doesn’t remember.
And as they approach the house, they walk by a car, and as they look in the tinted window of the car, Joshua asked E.P. “What do you see?” And as he stares at the reflection he answers, “An old man. That’s all.”
An old man.
When you and I look in the mirror what do we see? When I look in the mirror, if I’m honest I see someone who disturbs me. I see an adulterer, an addict, a thief, a liar. As I walk up to the tinted window of the car, all of the shame comes rushing back as the window says, “This is who you are. That’s all.”
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