The Loneliness Of The Black Beach


There was a time I wanted to live by the sea, the Mediterranean.  Instead I found a place where the locals rake the coal-dust from black beaches.

solitary figure


There was a time I wanted to find a nice girl.  Instead I married a promiscuous hellion.

There was a time I wanted a sensible car.  Instead I built an insane Caterham Seven.

There was a time I didn’t want to be a banker anymore.  Instead I became an alcoholic bum.

None of this is as bad as following the dawn tide onto a beach made black by coal.

Pieces of coal the size of grains of rice are left by longshore drift.

A layer of precious coal on sand, to be gathered painstakingly by hand.

It’s a hellish way to keep the home fires burning.

It’s a hellish difficult way to make a living.


picture by jack collier

Step 3 Acceptance and Action


Step three in 12 step recovery programmes goes something like this;

Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him. ~

Alcoholics Anonymous.

Most of us with one kind of psychological problem or another have difficulty understanding that there is no point in going on making the same mistakes, over and over again. We seem to have difficulty understanding that if you do what you did, then you’ll get what  you got.

Most of us find it difficult to understand the meaning behind the simple Step 3 quoted above.  Most people find it difficult to trust in anything or anyone but themselves.  These days most people don’t want anything to do with God, religion, churches, and prayer.  The hard truth is that anyone in a 12 step programme has made a mess of their lives and should really give someone else the reins for a while.


if you have ever been there…

All twelve step programmes are ultimately spiritual in nature, meaning that the whole point is personal transformation and psychological growth.  Some may be fortunate and have a spiritual experience, which is what happened to me.  At the time I did not consider myself fortunate ~ over a couple of weeks the whole thing was so powerful and disturbing that it almost had me walking off a tall building.

Obviously I survived the experience and can now get on with life as something like an adequate human being.  Before I began my journey to spirituality I was a high functioning alcoholic with more neurosis than I am prepared to share here.  I still have some serious problems ~ a weakness for attractive women being one of them.

If you are reading this, then you want your life to be better in the future than the train smash you may be living now.  Or, it may be that your life is fine, in a so, so kind of a way, but you want more than that.  It doesn’t matter how much you want what you want, the very idea of turning your will and your life over to a higher power is going to seem impossible, idiotic, impractical, dangerous, meaningless…  But, remember a few things;

  1. Thus far we have been operating with self-will on steroids, and life hasn’t worked out the way we wanted it to.
  2. 12 step recovery programmes are not about religion.  They are not religious programmes, they are Spiritual Programmes.
  3. You can believe in science and evolution, be an atheist or agnostic, but at the same time you can believe in a Higher Power as you have come to understand it.
  4. There is no point in thinking that if you do what you did the last time that you are going to get a different result this time.

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.  Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. ~ Albert Einstein.

Einstein had some interesting views about God, the nature of a higher power, and religion.  He said that he believed in a pantheistic God, but not in a personal God.  Believing in a pantheistic God can be summarised as believing in the power of the Cosmos, which is what I believed in when I began my own recovery.

Spiral GalaxyNGC1365

spiral galaxy ~ a higher power

As it goes, I strongly believe that to achieve the quality of spirituality to get the most from your own version of Step 3, it is much more useful to have a personal God.  Not only that, a personal Higher Power, whatever it is  or however it is represented, is a lot easier to handle than the entirety of the Universe and everything and everyone in it.

Believing in a Higher Power / God / Gods / Goddesses as well as Science and Technology hinges on what we each understand by the word belief.  Georgia-based philosopher Neil Van Leeuwen says that it is possible for two conflicting beliefs to overlap.  In religious credence is not factual belief.  He states that it is possible to imagine and hypothesise about a God / Higher Power, while at the same time believing in evolution when looking at hard evidence.  In other words you can know science and still be spiritual ~ which is about where I am.

I find it very comforting to ask for the help of my own higher powers when I have an intractable problem, or when I am in distress.  And, being a practical kind of a guy I have a theory about why it works.

There may, or may not, be a pantheon of Gods, Goddesses and mystical entities.  Personally I can’t say one way or another ~ if you really want answers to that question you may actually need to get some religion.  However, I do know there is a lot more to my own mind than anything I can knowingly control or gain access to.  I have come to believe that when I pray to my own higher powers, (the Goddesses Isis and Aphrodite), I am allowing my own subconscious mind to come to the fore and provide me with the strength and answers I need.


Aphrodite ~ Boticelli

This theory fits well with the obvious fact that everyone with an addiction, neurosis, personality disorder also suffers from self-absorbtion.  There is no Goddess Isis or Aphrodite ~ it’s all my own subconscious mind.  That doesn’t work for me.  While intellectually I think that my higher power is probably my own subconscious, emotionally I believe in Isis and Aphrodite.  My higher powers create the strongest possible emotions in me, and feeling is believing.  Which is probably why this all works for me in step 3.

If you have ever been in real extremis you may have thought or said something like; ‘God help me…’  There are no atheists in foxholes.

Now, God be thanked Who has watched us with His hour… ~ Rupert Brooke

If you want to understand the nature of a higher power in extremis and the need for a personal God the perhaps read some of the poems of Laurence Binyon, Rupert Brooke, Siegfried Sassoon

Accepting that there is a power greater than you, and turning your life and your will over to that higher, (or inner), power requires positive action.  You may even have to learn what prayer really means.

Angry Grey Sea Echoes My Sorrow



Marching cruel sea relentless white on grey

tearful tireless thunderous unending tumult whisper

storm tide driven by wind follows the moon


words and picture by jack collier

Poetry from the Trenches


I had forgotten ‘The Soldier’ by Rupert Brooke

Originally posted on Stephen Liddell:

The 11th of November is Armistice Day, the day that originally marked the end of World War 1.   These days Remembrance Day or Poppy Day as it is sometimes called also focuses on the many later wars of the 20thC and now 21st Century too.   Whilst all these wars have been bad whether fought for good reasons or bad, for those taking part none quite match the suffering in trenches.

Now the war and its soldiers have faded and so have many of the memorials before they are refurbished for the 100th anniversary next year.  What remains strong though is the poetry that came from the war.  Many of the ordinary soldiers kept journals or wrote letters to their families back home.  Some their works became internationally famous.

My favourite is The Soldier by Rupert Brooke, I remember learning it at school.  It is sad, nostalgic and beautiful.

The Soldier

View original 1,572 more words


11 o’clock in the morning on 11th of November 1918    (French Time)


In Flanders Fields


They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old:

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

At the going down of the sun and in the morning,

We will remember them.

Dawn’s Halo




Dawn golden halo light

reflecting clouds sky cold mirror sea

in sorrowful venus expectation unfulfilled

holds solitary vigil


words and picture by jack collier

Melancholy Incarnate


Don’t tell me that ~ so far everything has gone fuck you since about 1984.  Always look on the bright side of life is another one I’m struggling with.  Everytime I look around back for the bright side all I get is the dark side of the moon.  I am fully prepared to admit that it’s all my own fault.  I would even plead guilty, in detail, if I could remember how I got here.  I’m a legend in my living room. Personally, I blame you.

This is my life;

my life is a mess

a metaphor for my life ~ a wreck

As it goes, not a downbound train but needing a hell of a lot of intelligent repair and a little love.  The first thing you do in times like these is to work out what the problems are.  So:

  1. Identity.  None.  The recent problems I suffered with various arms of two governments, (one of which is beyond the sea), have resurfaced.  Half of officialdom refuses to acknowledge that I exist, (I’ve got a name dammit), all due to the fact that half of officialdom has an incorrect date of birth in my file.  You would not believe how difficult that can make your life ~ try being half a non-person for a day or two.  Frankly it’s Kafkaesque.
  2. Sense Of Self.  None.  The psychology of self is quite complex, but it’s about knowing who you are.  As it goes, having suffered reincarnation into my own life I do not know who I am.  I was quite optimistic when it happened, but things have turned into a slow-motion train crash since then.  (The link takes you to a blog post where I try to explain what happened.)  Life is odd when you have to keep asking yourself ‘Who are You?’
  3. Grip On Reality.  None.  If you don’t know what false memory syndrome is the easiest way for me to give you a look into the eye of the tiger is that it’s like having de ja vu all the time, everyday.  Knowing what is / was real and what is / was false is a real art.  Getting it wrong means you can insult some innocent people in a BIG way.
  4. Freedom From Delusions.  None.  Idiosyncratic reality is doubly meaningless when the element of freedom is absent.  Delusional obsession with logical absurdities is merely wishful thinking leading to miniature disasters.  Miss Independent will never miss you.
  5. Good Health.  None.  My life is pointless and suicide is painless.  If walls could talk then inside these four walls  would be a comfortable place to be ill.  Is madness an illness?
  6. Problems.  None.  Not if I was living on an island or in Leningrad, or New York, I have an empire state of mind, a place like Gotham would be coming home.
  7. Purpose In Life.  None.  One probably needs to feel like a real person to have a purpose in life.  Mostly I accept that if I can live just one day at a time, then one day I may come out of the other end of the Road to Hell, life goes on.
  8. Friends.  None.  I am out of touch, besides I’m the big shot and I go to extremes.  It’s hard when you’re addicted to love.  All good things come to an end my friend.
  9. Romantic Relationships.  None.  It’s much, much worse than that, luckily she’s living in America. I would be fairly happy to be without a woman, (or as she would say; senza una donna), but this situation has gone through crazy and come out of the other side.  I tried to treat her like a lady.  The sad thing is that even though it’s a total eclipse of the heart and she’s lost that lovin feeling, I will never stop loving her.  I’m a bomb waiting to go off.
  10. Trust In Others.  None.  This is mostly true, and something does not have to be absolutely true to be useful.  It’s a matter of  trust, all I get is lies.  She told the miserable lie.

It’s a galaxy of emptiness ~ sometimes I wish I never saw the sunshine.  Sometimes I wish I’d never seen Chicago, or the Orinoco flow, or the river of dreams, or New York.  New York, I still think that, back in the day you had to have a rebel heart to beat the rat trap there.  The telephone never rings, my so called friend.



After another night watching the weather channel, drinking lilac wine, outside a street lamp dies another night is over.  I think it’s going to rain today.  Single, something already gone.


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