There’s an image in my head. It’s been there for a while.

A mason. He toils in the dust and heat at the base of a great wall. I’m not sure if it’s the Great Wall or just a wall. Perhaps it’s an ancient wall or a temple of some kind, now rendered useless. It has been destroyed. Mostly.

The mason, maybe he’s not even a mason, maybe he’s just a worker, a grunt. He seems to carry stones away and never seems to build anything. He’s just busy. He moves at a steady pace, but he never seems to finish. He’s cleaning up and never ceases to lift and stack and carry stones away. He has a crude wheelbarrow, but it’s hard work. Mind-numbing work. His head is bowed and his back is bent to the strain.

It’s rare, but when I see his eyes, they are heavy with heartache and I know immediately that he can’t stop. He will never stop.

If he stops working he will have to face the tidal wave of memories and images that haunt his mind. The work keeps them at bay. I don’t know what happened, but it’s terrible. Perhaps it has something to do with the wall. Regardless, the heavy stones that break his body day by day are also a salvation. His work creates a barrier, a facade, weak and delicate like a simple piece of gauze, but a barrier nonetheless. It’s an illusion that helps soothe the soul, even if it can’t last forever.

I know how he feels.


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