Before him is a wall. It is not a wall of brick and mortar, nor a wall of stone, or plaster, or wood. It is a wall of nothing. It has form because he believes it has form. It has substance because he believes it has substance. If forced to describe it, he would say it is white, or perhaps black, with bleeding edges like bank of fog, which he cannot see because it extends infinitely in all directions. But no, perhaps it is colorless in its entirety, and exists as a mere heat shimmer within the air.
He knows that the wall is not real, and that it does not exist, but he also believes that it does exist. At the heart of this contradiction lies that which makes it impossible for him to move forward. The wall is a barrier to his mind and, therefore, his body.
Sometimes he can see beyond the wall. Sometimes he cannot. Sometimes those two things happen simultaneously, and he catches the vague impression of something beyond it which quickly flees from his consciousness, becoming as ethereal and uncertain as the wall itself.
There are times, in his memory, where he thinks he has passed beyond the wall. When he recalls them, he can do nothing but doubt their veracity. The wall, now, seems nothing short of insurmountable. It is unpassable. To think that he, a man of no special power or circumstance, could possible have passed through the wall? Inconceivable.
He wonders if, perhaps, there have been other walls; walls which were more easily circumvented, or walls whose nature he more readily observed, by virtue of which he was able to break through their limitations. That is possible. It is also possible, in his mind, that the memories of his past success are in fact illusions, fantasies formed by his subconscious to save his mind from utter collapse under the weight of his failures.
He has never passed through the wall. The sense that he never will fills him as surely as his own blood. Be that as it may, he has reached through it, from time to time. Each time he fear he would lose his hand, his fingers melting away as though in a vat of cartoon acid. Each time, his fears were unfounded: he met with no punishment of consequence.
This should inspire him to more bravery, but instead he has invented his own punishments for the acts. They brought such great fear and anxiety to him that he dares not attempt them again, even though they were, at base, successful. Each attempt at reaching through the wall has brought him such astounding fatigue that, afterwards, he knows — not just feels, but knows — that he won’t be able to do it again.
Yet he does, after a time, reach through once more, because he knows the only thing to be gained by failing to try is avoidance of his fear of trying, and that there is nothing real to be gained by not trying at all.