Sunday, 12 April 2015

Significant Dreams of Secret Rooms and Rivers in Spate

In this post, I recall some significant dreams of my past.

The Hidden Room

I dream there is a hidden room in my house (actually my chalet as I was living in a chalet at the time). The dream was so real that I actually examined the chalet from top to bottom next morning to make sure that there was no such room.


A mysterious extra room to a house often refers to an area of one's psyche that is undeveloped or neglected. Mine, at that time, was a sense of an area of government policy to which I could make a contribution.

I was working at the time in the Gaeltacht Department of the Government. Gaeltachts are areas where the Irish language is spoken, and we had programmes to try and improve their economics so that people could live and prosper at home. Working against these programmes were other government programmes, for example small farmers' dole, or, rather, the conditions attaching to small farmers' dole. Charlie Haughey, as Minister for Finance, had extended unemployment benefit to  farmers below a certain income. Our problem was that it was only payable to those engaged in traditional farming. We wanted to expand our farmers' activities into potentially profitable areas, such as pig or chicken farming, language and cultural tourism, agri-tourism, horticulture, craft work, cheese-making, and so on. But when a person had more than one pig, or acquired a glass house, for example, he was no longer a traditional farmer and his dole was in geopardy. When you lost your dole, you lost your "book," a collection of miscellaneous benefits, including health card and fuel allowance, so you were a lot poorer.

There was, in each county that had a Gaeltacht, a Gaeltacht sub-committee of the County Council, which was composed of delegates of the various government services working in the area as well as the County Manager. My boss, the Gaeltacht Department representative of this committee, showed me a draft document the committee was preparing to better integrate conflicting programmes to eliminate the negative motivations and produce a more positive outcome. One District Electoral Division was to be chosen as a pilot area, where the new policies would be implemented.

The idea was that a tally would be taken of all people, cattle, pigs, salaries and enterprises in the area, such that an estimate could be made of the annual economic contribution of the area to GDP. An estimate would also be made of the total annual subsidies going to the area. A programme would be put in place, in consultation with the local population, to specify targets for increasing the area's economic performance, and flexibility would be allowed in the application of doles, i.e., dole would not be cut off from self-employed people, including small farmers, within the pilot area, until a substantial improvement in income was achieved and sustained over a period of years. We hoped that the programme would show that forbearance in cutting dole would help improve economic performance and actually reduce the state's subsidies as a  proportion of the area's economy. If successful here, it could be expanded to other areas willing to set up similar local development structures. IN essence, enterprise was to be rewarded and people encouraged into profitable enterprise.

The document I was shown emanated from a committee. It had multiple good ideas, but lacked coherence and structure. I offered to do a redraft that would elaborate it, hopefully, into a coherent and persuasive whole. This was my extra room! Having been given the task, I drafted a comprehensive booklet, with chapters on Background,  Purpose, Outline,  a chapter for each proposal, Conclusions  and Executive Summary. The committee were happy with my draft and sent the document up for consideration.

Nothing ever came of it, regrettably. Since then, I have wondered whether the document would have fared better in its original rough, tentative format. Higher ups like to consider that good proposals emanate from themselves or under their control. It is better, perhaps, to ask them vague questions like "Do you think something could be done about X," so that they can come back and say, "Let me have your suggestions," which they can then take up and promote as their own, rather than give them a finished document, with everything worked out, which they routinely relegate to the shelf.

As to the dream: it told me I had an area of interest to elaborate, which resulted in my draft.

Another Lost Room

Years later I had another lost room dream. By this time I was back in Dublin, working in the Land Registry, and married with a family.

This time the circumstances were the introduction of computers to the Land Registry. What is a Land Register? It is essentially a database of information concerning the ownership of land. A paper system is complicated and cumbersome, and a computer system can be so much more efficient and effective and allow multiple avenues of access to the data. It is an ideal subject for computerisation, and I had advocated this for several years before it was commenced. But when it was brought in, it did not set out to achieve its potential. Instead, the plan was to automate the existing paper system - "to pave the cow-path" in effect! I mentioned to the architect of the system that data independence was essential, and he replied that data independence was not on the list of objectives at all. They were not about to computerise land information, they were about to computerise the documents of the paper system!  What a waste of money and effort! (Essentially, a Land Register would, instead, hold information on Parcels of Land, information on Persons, and Index linking the two. Simple, uncomplicated and capable of answering multiple questions).

My voice could not be heard on the matter, because I was an Examiner of Titles, not a manager or computer expert.

This is when I had my dream, and it galvanised my intention to study computers and get the expertise to design a system. So, I went back to college in my spare time, studying Information Technology in a correspondence course. Emerging with a first class B. Sc. in Information Technology, I then proceeded to M. Sc.,  producing a thesis on "A Model for Land Registration in the Information Age."

The thesis had some impact on the real Land Registry, but was never wholly taken on board. After my "early" retirement from the Land Registry (the subject of my next dream described below), I became s Land Registration Consultant and wrote a book (unpublished) on "Simplified Land Titling (Simple, low-cost protection of all land rights)."

The River in Spate

I dream I am, with my wife, on a bridge spanning a wide river in spate. My wife suddenly slips through the railings into the river and is carried away by the flood. I consider jumping in after her, but realise that I, too, would simply be swept away. I come off the bridge in distress, to find my son, to whom I say: "This is dreadful." But then I add, "But no! it is not. It's fine."

I mentioned this dream to a neighbour who is into dream-interpretation. He told me that the theme of my dream is quite common, but that the woman in the dream is usually the dreamer's mother, not his wife. The river in spate is the stream of life. The subject is about to depart from the shelter of his family to find his own way in life, and the stream of life sweeps his childhood world away from him.

This was not my position. I was not a young man about to set out on life's adventure, but an ageing person contemplating "early" retirement from a job I held for almost 40 years. My wife represented the job I was leaving. There is, of course, much to regret about leaving an environment you have enjoyed for many years, but, no, it is not regrettable. Do it, forget about the past and get on with your new adventure.

The Furnished Attic

After completing my thesis on "A Model for Land Registration in the Information Age," (mentioned above), it was open to me to proceed with the studies to the level of doctorate (Ph. D.). Then I had a dream that I was in my house and was thinking of converting my attic. I opened the attic door, pulled down the attic stairs, switched on the light and peered in. To my amazement, the attic was already fully converted and wonderfully furnished.

The dream told me that, in completing my thesis on "A Model for Land Registration in the Information Age," I had, in fact, completed the mission I had set out on and had no motivation  to proceed to Ph. D. in the matter. I pursued this supervised study no further.

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