While I sit here waiting on our friend to arrive and Mr. Obama to take the podium, I will share more of my past, and in particular, another epsiode wherein I was "trapped". As you may have guessed, I reclaimed most, if not all, of my spiritual memories on the dreamscape, or while dreaming. Funny, how most finite beings do not appreciate what a wonderful gift dreaming truly is. Medically, we all know that the body uses sleep as a means of incapacitating a person so that it can go about the business of self-repair. But just like the body, the soul, too, must make repairs to itself from time to time, and the soul employs dreaming as a means for distracting the mind. While in the dream state, a soul recovers from the emotional and psychic stress of day to day life, and more importantly, incorporates the life lessons of the waking flesh and internalizes them so that a soul may grow and learn from the physical realm.

  Albeit, while the analogy is imprecise, at best, I think that it suffices in describing how important dreams are. Many misconstrue dreams as a mere by-product of sleep, but dreams do not require sleep, and vice versa, to perform their relative functions -- e.g., daydreaming is as valid an experience, if of greater brevity, as dreaming while asleep. Regardless, there is not ample time here to spend yakking about the practical or technical aspects of dreaming; however, what I do want to impart is the necessity of dreams to human well being. And in particular, for Champions, dreams are even more important. Succintly, dreams are gateways to places outside the physical realm, and typically, outside of time, for it is only outside of time, on the dreamscape, does a soul appreciate the naure of physical existence and actually grow, or sometimes, shrivel, as the case may be.

  But back to the story here, let me share with you an episode that I vividly recall from my youth that impacts me to this day. During my sophmore year of college, I contracted the flu, and not surprisingly the flu sucked; but what I genuinely regreted was that I had contracted the flu on the night of the championship game for our intramural basketball league. And being the humble young lad that I was, I had several outstanding bets with at least half of my dorm in regards to my performance in the game.

  Now, I must acknowledge something here, namely that I am the consummate lazy bastard, and I depend, in most things, on my prodigious natural talents to carry me through to victory. Indeed, I generally despise hard work, and will normally only do just enough to achieve a goal, including winning a basketball game. Accordingly, I often boasted of far greater talents on the basketball court than I had ever consistently displayed, because in all candor, only I really knew how much effort I applyied at any juncture, and so only I fully appreciated my greatness, or at least, that is what I thought.

  Anyway, the bet for this particular game was that I would, against the "jock" dorm, score at least a double double, but not just any double double, it had to be at least a 20-10 game in the final box score. Needless to say, despite a rising fever and a body shaking with chills at tip off time, I refused to sit out the game and willed myself to play. And while most onlookers thought my profuse sweating was a result of me playing unusually hard, I knew differently, i.e., that I had done substantial damage to my body in achieving my 22 point, 15 rebound night. But I am Magnus, and I never fail, especially when my pride is on the line. Or at least, I hadn’t up to that point in my life.

  So, after all the high fiving ended and the gym cleared, I truimphantly strode out of the gym -- despite the fact that the half a mile walk from the basketball gym to my dorm room promised to be the most painful and grueling walk that I have ever taken. In fact, delirium seized my mind long before I walked even half way home, and the freezing wind and biting cold of a full blown nor’easter did little to alleviate my illness. But I, again, willed myself onward, down the street and through the wind and blinding snow. With each footstep, successively heavier than the last, I eventually arrived at my dorm, after an unknown period of time, and then, I literally staggered into my apartment and collapsed on the living room floor by the balcony. Ironically enough, this caused no one any alarm as I frequently slept on the floor by the balcony bay windows because of the lovely view of the moon over the Charles River (it was simply sublime). Therefore, I did not receive the assistance that I needed when my roomates came home and saw me stretched out, unconscious, on the living room floor beneath my favorite old army blanket.

  However, I was far from my usual nightly routine. My body temperature crept into the life threatening zone, and unfortunately, I was too far into my delirium to request help from anyone had my roommates even approached me, so I simply let go of my consciousness, and hoped that my body could hold on and bail me out of my self created mire. I do not remember much of those first few hours, other than the utter blackness of my sleep, and a deep sense of regret over what I had done. Well, that is not true, I did not regret my arrogance, but I did dread the uneasy foreboding that hung in my heart as I fell deeper and deeper into sleep and delirium.

  As I continued to fall into myself, into parts of my psyche that I had never explored before, I realized that I was not losing conciousness but changing it. And while at first blush that seems exciting, trust me when I say it is not. For people like myself hide things from ourselves deep within ourselves, and sometimes these things are ugly things, dangerous things. But what was most disturbing to me at the time was the fact that I wouldn’t be able to simply wake up if I wandered into a hostile place that I could not handle in the dreamscape. Indeed, I was pretty much stuck, for at least the next 12 hours or so until my body could undo the damage that my ego had done on the basketball court.

  I finally came to on a jagged ridge overlooking a mountain valley with steep granite sides and a small river meandering through its center. From my anthropology studies, I immediately recognized the place as a distorted Olduvai Gorge – home of Lucy, homo erectus, and homo habilus. I scanned the horizon. This was a truly beautiful place, breath taking in its serenity and timeless magnificence. From the ridge where I materialized, I could just make out Mt. Kilimanjaro on the distant side of the ravine, its peak shrouded in puffy white clouds. But while everything appeared as if taken from a National Geographic cover, something seemed wrong, well, more aptly, more “wrong” than expected for a dreamscape based on a real place.

  First, the colors of the valley were slightly askew. The usually sandy grey of the granite formations that jaggedly lined the valley were a tinge too green in color. I leaned over to pick up some of the finer gravel in my hand and instantly noticed an anomaly – the black and white specks in the granite appeared normal, but the iridescent ones were color heavy, almost radiantly so, like the rainbow rings on an oily asphalt driveway. The effect gave the sand itself a strange scintillating property, and the light in the entire place seemed slightly warped. The ambiance of this place should have been eerie, but that was not the emotion that crept over me.

  The other problem, well, this one I didn’t realize until I dropped the gravel in my hand, and noticed that the falling gravel did not travel from my hand to the ground directly, but rather it flowed, as if the particles of sand were water, and the air another surface to be traversed. This was truly odd, and I could not tell immediately what natural law had been violated to create the effect, but I needed to figure it out. When on a dreamscape, one’s life often depends on the smallest details, and in particular, understanding the rules of the place where you are. For instance, if gravity were skewed here, then I would have to adjust my movements in combat, and recognize that any creature native to such a place would be brutishly strong and dense – i.e., direct and close range physical attacks would probably be ineffective.

  So without further ado, I began to make my way down the ridge, as it was better to move around and get the feel of this place rather than risk learning its ways under more pressing circumstances. It was tough going at first, as everything in this world seemed to move erratically and bizarrely. Rocks slid at patently different rates, but still moved together. Obviously, I surmised that gravity was slightly off in this place, but that seemed too simple a conclusion. Because it wasn’t that gravity was twice earth gravity or even a third. This was something entirely different. By the time I reached the valley floor, dust and dirt particles of various sizes covered my black chang pao from head to toe.

  Once in the valley, I looked around uneasily, sure that something was going to happen, but not knowing what. Again I knelt down to examine my physical surroundings. The stream running through the center of the valley was real, and seemed to behave like a stream, except for the flow of the river, it varied in rather unpredictable ways. As I looked down to where my black boot encroached upon the water’s edge, there wasn’t the normal puddling of water, but as I gazed at the water, it slowed and warped around the tip of my boot. I jerked my foot back, a little frightened, although I would have never admitted that at the time. In any event, I decided that being in the valley near this river was definitely not a good idea. I needed a defendable position, and so I glanced around for a vantage point high enough for me to survey any threat before it was close enough to attack.

  About three clicks away, near a strange sloping portion of the ravine wall, there was a lone scraggly tree, not unlike the one that always dots the landscape in the closing scene of a bad western – a hanging tree, if you will. Ah, an obvious death metaphor. Clearly, if I was going to get this dream moving, I should head for the tree. Yep. Whatever was going on here would probably become apparent once I reached the tree. And if not there, then I would have to head for the other landmark on the dreamscape, Mt. Kilimanjaro. Hoping that I would not spend the next twelve hours walking to a mountain that may not even be reachable, I immediately set off for the path up to the tree.

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