(Being-in-Dreaming by Florinda Donner)
“I, too, saw the inherent order of my notes,” I said smugly. “I, too, saw it in a dream.”
“Of course you did,” Florinda readily agreed. “We pulled you into dreaming so you could work on your paper.”
“You pulled me into dreaming?” I repeated.
There was something startlingly normal about her statement. Yet at the same time it made me feel apprehensive.
I had an uncanny sense that I was finally close to understanding what dreaming-awake was, but somehow I couldn’t quite grasp it. In an effort to make sense, I told Florinda all that had happened from the moment I saw the caretaker and the dog in the yard. It was difficult to make it sound coherent, for I couldn’t decide myself when I had been awake and when I had been dreaming.
To my utter bewilderment, I could recall the exact outline of my paper as I had seen it superimposed on my original draft. “My concentration was far too keen for me to have been dreaming,” I pointed out.
“That’s precisely what dreaming-awake is,” Florinda interrupted me. “That’s why you remember it so well.”
Her tone was that of an impatient teacher explaining a simple but fundamental point to a backward child. “I’ve already told you that dreaming-awake has nothing to do with falling asleep and having a dream.”
“I took notes,” I said, as if that would invalidate her statement.
Seeing her nod, I asked her if I would find whatever I saw in dreaming-awake jotted down in my own handwriting on my pad.
“You will,” she assured me. “But before you do, you’ll have to eat first.”
She rose and, holding out her hand, helped me to my feet. To put a semblance of order to my appearance, she tucked my shirt into my jeans and brushed off the pieces of straw sticking to my sweater.
She held me at arm’s length and regarded me critically. Not satisfied with the results, she began to fuss with my hair, tweaking the unruly strands this way and that.
“You look quite frightful with your hair sticking out all over the place,” she pronounced.
“I’m used to taking a hot shower upon awakening,” I said, and followed her out into the corridor.
Seeing that she was heading toward the kitchen, I told her that I had to go to the outhouse first.
“I’ll walk with you.” Noticing my displeased face, she added that she only wanted to make sure I didn’t get dizzy and fall into the shit hole.
Actually, I was glad to hold on to her arm as we made our way to the yard. I almost fell as we stepped outside, not so much from weakness as from the shock of seeing how late in the day it was.
“What’s the matter?” Florinda asked. “Do you feel faint?”
I pointed up at the sky. A faint gleam was all that remained of the sun’s light. “I can’t possibly have lost a day,” I said. My voice had all but vanished even before I finished speaking.
I struggled to assimilate the idea that indeed a whole night and the whole day had passed, but my mind would not accept it. Not being able to account for time, measured in the usual manner, unhinged me.
“Sorcerers break time’s flux,” Florinda answered my thoughts. “Time, in the fashion we measure it, doesn’t exist when one dreams the way sorcerers dream.”
“Sorcerers stretch or compress time at will. For sorcerers, time is not a matter of minutes or hours or days but an altogether different matter. “
“When dreaming-awake, our perceptual faculties are heightened,” she proceeded in a patient, measured tone:
“However, when it comes to perceiving time, something altogether different happens. The perception of time does not become heightened but is canceled out completely.”
She added that time is always a factor of consciousness; that is, to be aware of time is a psychological state that we automatically transform into physical measurements. It is so ingrained in us that we can hear, even when we are not consciously aware of it, a clock ticking inside us, subliminally keeping track of time.
“In dreaming-awake, that capacity is absent,” she emphasized. “A thoroughly new, unfamiliar structure, which somehow is not to be understood or interpreted as we normally do with time, takes over.”
“Then all I will ever consciously know about dreaming-awake is that time has either been stretched or compressed,” I said, trying to come to grips with her elucidation.
“You will understand a great deal more than that,” she assured me emphatically:
“Once you become adept at entering heightened awareness, as Mariano Aureliano calls it, you’ll be aware then of whatever you wish because sorcerers are not involved in measuring time. They are involved in using it; in stretching or compressing it at will.”
“You mentioned earlier that you all helped me into dreaming,” I said. “Then some of you must know how long that state lasted.”
Florinda said that she and her companions were perennially in a state of dreaming-awake, that it was precisely their joint effort that pulled me into dreaming-awake, but that they never kept track of it.
“Are you implying that I might be dreaming-awake now?” I asked, knowing the answer before she responded. “If I am, what did I do to reach this state? What steps did I take?”
“The simplest step imaginable,” Florinda said. “You didn’t let yourself be your usual self. That is the key that opens doors.”
“We have told you many times and in many ways that sorcery is not at all what you think it is.”
“To say that to stop yourself from being your usual self is sorcery’s most complex secret sounds like idiocy, but it isn’t. It is the key to power, therefore the most difficult thing a sorcerer does.”
“And yet, it isn’t something complex or impossible to understand. It doesn’t boggle the mind, and for that reason no one can even suspect its importance or take it seriously.”
“Judging by the result of your latest dreaming-awake, I can say that you have accumulated enough energy, through preventing yourself from being your usual self.”