TwelveDrawings

This website is not affiliated with any Twelve Step group. It is not presented as being conference-approved literature. If you don't understand what that means or why it matters, ask your sponsor or anyone who has long-term sobriety in your specific Twelve Step program. Conference-approved literature has been carefully verified by well-qualified and long-sober groups of people. By contrast, only one person has reviewed the information on this website!

The only way I could get sober was by 1) attending meetings, 2) getting a sponsor, and 3) working the Twelve Steps every single day. So, if you are not yet sober, I encourage you to exit this site for now. Even if I have good intentions, my ideas could easily delay or derail your success in recovery.

Be very skeptical of personal sites like this. Common sense should tell you this. You don't know anything about me. You have no way of knowing whether I am in fact sober or ever have been.

With that being said...

If you have become sober by working the Twelve Steps, then this site may be of interest. My words and images are personal shares, comparable to someone sharing their experience, strength, and hope in a face-to-face meeting.

I do pray that you find experience, strength, and hope here. However, most of us only find lasting sobriety through the grace of a Higher Power. Once you are well on your way in recovery, I invite you to come back here. Maybe things that seemed mildly interesting during your first visit will become more meaningful with each new visit during your lifetime of recovery.


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: All definitions are from 1934 Webster's New International Dictionary, Second Edition (©G.&C. Merriam Co.). Any errors in transcription are unintentional. This is a website created by one individual and it has no affiliation with or endorsement from the publishers of Webster's Dictionary or any local or national Twelve Step organization.

 

Q&A about TwelveDrawings

Q: Why do Bill Wilson's word choices matter?

I pay close attention to the historical roots of words that Bill W. used in his Twelve Step writings. Words can have very precise meanings — in legal documents — or vague meanings — as in freeform writing. Not everyone is aware Bill W. attended Brooklyn Law School for more than two years. He passed every class but for obscure reasons, he never received his diploma. Lacking that credential, he could not take the bar exam and therefore could not practice law.

Still, Bill's legal training must have come in handy when he wrote the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. He knew that the lives of his alcoholic readers hung in the balance when they read the Big Book. He was painfully aware that words could be slippery things, especially in the hands of alcoholics who were well-practiced in evasion and denial.

When Bill re-examined the six Oxford Group tenants that helped him get sober, he reportedly found too many loopholes in the wording — loopholes that alcoholics might use to wriggle out of sobriety. So, he recast those six tenants into twelve steps. I suspect he did that to close those loopholes using clearer wording.

I now pay close attention to the precise meanings of words in the original Twelve Step literature because I believe Bill W. did too. I first got that idea from Joe & Charlie's "The Big Book Comes Alive" lecture series. They carefully examined the exact definition of such words as "resent", "believe", "decide", and many others. I went an extra step and found a 1930-era Webster's Dictionary so I could read the exact definitions which were current at that time.

After all, how could Bill Wilson possibly know what words might mean in the future? The definitions of his era were the only ones he could possibly know.

Have my ideas too far? I suppose it is possible. I have no professional training in recovery or the roots of word definitions. Most of what I have said above came from my own thinking. But the process of looking up the precise definitions of Twelve Step words has helped me stay sober for another day. One day at a time.

TRIVIA: I have read that Bill W. began writing the Big Book of AA under the strict editorial review of some 40 recovered alcoholics. They probably wanted the book to have the continuity and tone that comes from the pen of a single author. Unfortunately, there were countless disagreements about the words Bill W. chose.

In a particularly important example, some loved the word "God" because of what it meant to them. Others strongly objected to the word "God" because it meant something very different to them. I have no idea how Bill and the group reconciled their differing definitions. It is possible someone pulled out a current Webster's dictionary and read this definition to the group: "God n. - a being of greater than human attributes and powers". Bill did settle on a similar phrase — "a power greater than human power" — to refer to God.

Coincidence? Maybe.

Law students like Bill knew that choosing words with well-documented definitions was a time-tested practice in the legal profession. He could ensure that if anyone tried to debate or dispute the word "God", a common dictionary could be used to settle the matter.

This had a definite benefit during the early days of AA. The Big Book was mailed by the thousands to people all across America. Those scattered AA groups might consist of very few people who had no long-sober "old timers" to help them understand the Twelve Step writings. However, such outlying groups would always have a locally-available resource in their local library or school — an ordinary dictionary.

Do I have any proof that Bill or any AA founders chose words using Webster's 1934 Dictionary? Absolutely not. My speculations are merely that. Your guess is as good as mine.


Q: Why use 1934 dictionary definitions?

My sponsor encouraged me to look up Twelve Step words in the dictionary. That sounded extremely boring, but I followed his directions. At first, I looked up words using a very new dictionary. But one evening, a rainstorm forced me to seek shelter in a used book store. Browsing the shelves, my gaze fell upon a giant Webster's Dictionary (shown above) that was published in 1934*. That year rang a bell for me. I knew that the writer of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous got sober around that time.

Although I certainly respected the Big Book, I often found the wording to be overly formal and even outdated. As the rain continued pouring outdoors, I idly flipped open the old dictionary and began reading the 1934 definitions of some basic Twelve Step words.

Before long, turned to a word I was really struggling with understanding: "God".

Webster's 1934 definition of "God" was "a being of more than human attributes or powers." I immediately noticed how similar these words were to Bill W.'s phrase "a power higher than human power."

It was not identical, however, the essential meaning was the same. More curious, I looked up some other words from the Steps. Often, the first definition shed new light on something in the Big Book. Bill Wilson's "old-fashioned" writing suddenly sprang to life for me. The results were amazing. This simple exercise deepened my understanding of early recovery literature. I wanted to preserve what I discovered.

I created a drawing corresponding to each Twelve Step word and its Webster's Definition.

Did Bill write a dictionary open in front of him? I strongly doubt it. When Bill was growing up, language was very formal. Teachers made sure students used words with the most precise and accepted meaning. Today, American English has become diverse, with writers injecting their own original meanings into words, or using old words in new ways.

For example, if Bill W. described something as being "cool", he was describing its temperature whereas the a writer today might be referring the "fashionable attractiveness" of a style or idea.

Reading those older definitions made it easier for me to understand the Steps. Eventually, I collected dozens of definitions. You can find them all listed at the end of this post. You might try looking up some words that I missed. Your local library may have an enormous Webster's Dictionary somewhere in the back room (if libraries still HAVE books whenever you read this). Chances are, the librarians will be delighted if you ask to see it for yourself.

My point is simple. If you want to fully understand any word, why not read its definition in a dictionary that was current when the writer wrote it? Keep it simple!

* In Bill W's time, the definitions of words changed more slowly than they do today. Dictionaries were updated every two or three decades, not every year like they are now. This from Merriam-Webster's website:

"Since they were first released, Webster's International Dictionary and Webster's Collegiate Dictionary have been updated and revised many times. New editions of the unabridged appeared in 1909 (Webster's New International Dictionary), 1934 (Webster's New International Dictionary, Second Edition), and 1961 (Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged). Addenda sections, featuring words that came into use after publication of the 1961 edition, have been added regularly, most recently in 2002."

(source: http://www.merriam-webster.com/info/commitment.htm - current as of August 2022)

Thus, when Bill Wilson wrote the Big Book, the 1934 Webster's Unabridged Dictionary was the most recent one. A modern day lexicographer explained to me one major difference between the 1934 and 1961 editions. He said in the earlier edition, Webster's Dictionary presented the most correct and authoritative definitions of words. By 1961, Webster's had changed its approach to showcasing the most popular and common definitions of words. If that's the case, then the 1930s definitions were more rigid than the most-commonly-used approach in the 1961 edition.


 

Q: Why illustrate only the first definition?

Most words have multiple definitions. People sometimes ask why I don't pick one of the other definitions for that same word? Good question.

In my elementary school days, teachers taught us that when the dictionary contains several definitions for the same word, the first definition is the most commonly used one. The other definitions are correct, too, but they are not as popular as the #1 definition. Here is an example:

"COOL" (today's definition)

1: moderately cold

2a: marked by steady dispassionate calmness and self-control <a cool and calculating administrator>

2b: lacking ardor or friendliness <a cool impersonal manner>

2c of jazz: marked by restrained emotion and the frequent use of counterpoint

2d: free from tensions or violence <we used to fight, but we're cool now>

3: used as an intensive <a cool million dollars>

At first, it seemed reasonable to base my drawings on purely modern definitions. The language in the Big Book of AA certainly looks and sounds much like the speech of today. But further reading of my musty 1934 Webster's New International Dictionary revealed certain definitions such as #2 and #3 (above) were very different from their 1934 counterparts (below).

"COOL" (1934 definition)

1: moderately cold

2: producing or giving a sensation of coolness

3: not ardent, warm or passionate

Definition #1 agreed in the older and newer dictionaries. However, if I continued into other definitions, there were significant differences. Which definition in a dictionary would best reflect Bill's thinking, I asked a helpful reference librarian to explain the differences between my modern collegiate dictionary and the unabridged one from 1934. She offered a wonderful explanation which I will summarize as follows:

  • UNABRIDGED DICTIONARY: Such as my 1934 Webster's (shown above) strives to present every known definition of every word. Such books are so large and heavy that libraries often place them on a specially constructed pedestal. The first definition for a given word is the oldest one, not the most popular one. The written introduction in my 1934 dictionary confirms this on page xiii:
    "In general the arrangement of meanings of words of many meanings in the Dictionary has been according to the following practice. The earliest meaning ascertainable is always first, whether it is literary, technical, historical, or obsolete. Meanings of later derivation are arranged in the order shown to be most probably be dated citations and semantic development."
  • COLLEGIATE DICTIONARY: This is a much much smaller type of dictionary. These books were edited down to a length that was convenient for students to hold and carry. (That was very important when students carried textbooks instead of going online for information. My collegiate book had most of the rare words and/or obscure definitions removed to keep the book lightweight. My grade school teachers were correct that collegiate dictionaries listed the most commonly used definition first.

I saw a potential flaw in using an unabridged dictionary. If the first definition is the oldest one, wouldn't many such definitions outdated and no longer useful? Thankfully, no. If a first definition is so old that no one uses it anymore, it is labeled by Webster editors as "obsolete" and/or "archaic". For my illustrations, I disregarded those obsolete definitions, with the sole exception of "Courage" (see that drawing in the Serenity Prayer set.)

Today, most Americans probably don't give much thought to how old their word definitions are. Abandoning the formality of their grandparent's school days, today's Americans favor word choices that are creative and expressive — sometimes at the expense of the word's precise definition. AA's Bill Wilson's first studied grammar in the early 1900s, when writing styles were much more rigid than they are today. Bill attended private school in New England and later studied law in New York state. In both instances, enormous importance was placed on utilizing precise words which have meanings that cannot be misconstrued by others.

Bill's expert use of precisely-defined words probably contributed to the effectiveness of the Big Book of AA. Alcoholics and addicts are notoriously slippery in their evasive use of language. (i.e., "You expected me to repay you? But you never actually said it was a loan. Geez, I thought you were my friend. Don't make such a big deal out of it!")

Bill probably knew that the Big Book would face two very severe tests. First, it needed to speak to alcohlics in a way that bypassed their habitual distortion of other people's words. For example, if Bill had used slang or any other loosely defined vocabulary, alcoholics could have found the loopholes they needed to dismiss him and his message. Secondly, the writing needed to survive the continual shifts in meaning that words inevitably undergo over many years. Bill needed words with meanings that would remain unchanged for many years.

In both cases, Bill would have been wise to use the #1 definition from an unabridged dictionary. This would prevent the alcoholic from skipping through all of the definitions, looking for one that contradicted Bill's intended meaning. It would also ensure that for many decades to come, an interested Big Book reader could find an unchanging definition for the words that Bill chose with such care when so many lives depended on his success.


 

Q: What about "The Doctor's Opinion"?

The Doctor's Opinion begins on p.xxiii of the Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous. The doctor in question was Dr. William Duncan Silkworth who worked to help thousands of severe drinkers. He surprised many people when he wrote: "...true alcoholism is a manifestation of an allergy." (p. xxvi)

I have heard addiction experts — even some belonging to AA"who dismiss Dr. Silkworth's use of the word "allergy". Some physicians speculate that Dr. Silkworth made a misdiagnosis based on inadequate medical knowledge. Others suggest that he was employing some sort of metaphor. (A "metaphor" is the application of a word or phrase which is not literally true, but makes a point. Example: "Laziness is a CANCER spreading through society.") I studied the history of the medical term "allergy" and I believe that today's skeptics misunderstand Dr. Silkworth's use of the word.

Did the Doctor make a misdiagnosis?

That seems very unlikely to me. When he made the above statement, Dr. Silkworth had already treated over 5,000 patients for various levels of alcohol abuse. He described only the most severe cases as suffering from an "allergy".

Perhaps our difficulty in understanding him arises from our current use of the word. Many people currently associate the word "allergy" with some sort of histamine reaction (i.e., hay fever, pet allergies, poison ivy, bee allergies). The public idea that allergies  involve sneezing, watery eyes, and internal problems may spring from years of advertising by companies which sell anti-allergy medications.

However, the word "allergy" had a different meaning in Dr. Silkworth's time. The medical term was first used in 1906 by an Austrian doctor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clemens_von_Pirquet) who noticed that some patients safely tolerated a vaccine for a while, but they later experienced a dangerously different reaction to later doses of the same vaccine. That Austrian doctor published his findings and by the 1930s, that definition for the medical term "allergy" was widely known among physicians like Dr. Silkworth.

Did the Doctor use the word "allergy" as a metaphor?

I thought so, at first. Now, I seriously doubt it. Dr. Silkworth was giving his opinion as a physician, not as a poet or creative writer. A physician has no reason to employ a precise medical term like "allergy" unless he is describing that exact condition. A doctor would confuse his readers if he wrote, "Alcoholism is a cancer" (or any other purely medical diagnosis). Their chance of being misinterpreted would be too great. An educated person like a physician could easily think of clearer examples if he were striving to find a metaphor. My conclusion is that he was speaking literally.

I believe Doctor Silkworth used the term "allergy" according to the  medical definition in use at the time. I am not a doctor but it appears to me that Dr. Silkworth was describing those drinkers who drank safely at first, but who eventually experienced a dangerously different reaction. He wasn't referring to itching or sneezing. He was describing people who drank at 20 years old with no serious physical problems but who experienced inexplicably different reactions later. Many respectable citizens were almost dead of horrifying and seemingly incurable alcoholism by middle-age. Same substance; different reaction. In 1939 (when the Big Book was written) the correct diagnosis for that reaction was an "allergy".

I personally am convinced that the "allergy" diagnosis in the Doctor's Opinion of the Big Book is rooted in solid science, not in metaphor or outdated medicine. Regardless, I am grateful for the pioneering work performed by Dr. Silkworth and countless others in the early days of Twelve Step recovery.


Q: Who Are "Joe and Charlie"?

You will see several references on this site to "Joe & Charlie". Their names are sometimes heard at local Twelve Step meetings. So, who exactly are Joe and Charlie? They were two long-recovered alcoholics who traveled the world for several decades, sharing their insights into the Big Book of AA. Because all Twelve Step programs are derived from the AA Big Book, I suspect their recordings might help anyone in ANY Twelve Step program....not just AA.

Their Big Book recordings (officially called "The Big Book Comes Alive") are not conference-approved literature. Any sponsee interested in listening to the series should ask their sponsor first. I can recommend the talks with confidence because many long-sober speakers have openly given credit to Joe and Charlie with their own recovery. I have heard people say said they never really "got" how Twelve Step recovery works until they heard the free-wheeling and good-natured recordings of Joe P and Charlie McQ. I know that was true for me.

To say it more clearly, Joe and Charlie's talks saved my life. When I first got into recovery, I could not really grasp what I was reading and I did not get sober. I was about to give up and go back out there. My kindly mother startled me by mailing me a complete set of the recordings. At first, I scoffed. Then, I listened. Honestly, I doubt I would be alive today if I had not heard that Old-School message carried directly to me by Joe and Charlie's talks.

Joe and Charlie sparked my habit of looking up recovery-related words in the dictionary. Listening to two rough-hewn men casually discussing the Latin roots of the word "resentment" was stunning at first (i.e., I was startled to learn that to "resent" meant to "feel again". I had always inventoried my resentments as if the word meant to simply feel angry. With a new and more historically accurate definition in mind, the resentment inventory became much more powerful for me.) Bringing such mental discipline reading the Big Book had never occurred to me. Joe and Charlie's lifelong search for recovery in the Big Book still inspires me today through their recordings.

This website is dedicated to the tireless work of Joe and Charlie, and the others behind the scenes who helped them carry their Message to thousands like me.

Joe McQ passed away October 25th, 2007. Another gentleman (coincidentally named Joe) continued presenting the Big Book study with Charlie P until the latter died in April of 21, 2011. All three of these men gave voluntarily of their time for many years, helping others gain a better understanding of the practice and history of Twelve Step recovery.

Listening to Big Book study recordings cannot change the importance of thoroughly reading the Big Book or your own recovery program's literature. But because the complete series of recordings lasts many hours, I believe only the most devoted sponsor could duplicate all the careful review of the Twelve Step process that is presented in these talks.

If you go looking for these recordings online or elsewhere, you will probably find numerous versions of them. The exact content of Joe & Charlie's discussions changed surprisingly little over the years — I notice that recordings from the 1980s sound remarkably similar to talks given decades later. I suspect the pair saw many lives being saved by their original talk and made a strenuous effort not to change it for fear of "spoiling" its good results.

Below are links I could find the recordings of Joe and Charlie's Big Book study. I happen to prefer the talks which included Joe McQ in his full vibrancy. However, the core subject matter remained very similar throughout the decades of recordings, including the ones made after Joe McQ passed away in 2007.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ibyteapps.joeandcharliefree&hl=en_GB

https://apps.apple.com/us/app/joe-charlie-big-book-alcoholics-anonymous/id902251318

https://www.wpaarea60.org/audio/big-book-studies/joe-and-charlie-the-big-book-comes-alive/

Joe McQ is heard in his full vibrancy at http://www.theprimarypurposegroup.com/mp3/JoeCharlie.htm.

DISCLAIMER: None of the above sites endorse my site, nor can I guarantee their current availability. Naturally, you may do your own search for Joe and Charlie's Big Book Study (officially titled "The Big Book Comes Alive").


Q: Why did you create drawings titled "Religious or Not?"

Among the 500-plus pages of the book Alcoholics Anonymous, the word "God" appears nearly 300 times. I myself would assume that any book containing that many references to God must be a very, very religious book. (A nit-picker might easily argue against my assumption. There are many books which examine that word from a purely historical, academic, or cultural perspective without promoting any religious beliefs. And there are many books which might mention that word in passing while attacking any or all institutions of religion.) Still, I believe that the notion that where there is smoke there is fire. Likewise, where a book has the word "God" mentioned in a positive context on so many of its pages, there is bound to be some sort of religious message being delivered.

Or so I once believed.

Now that I have spent more than a decade reading and using the book Alcoholics Anonymous, I no longer believe the word "religious" applies to it. If you agree with me, there are many of us. If you disagree, there are as many (or more) who feel as you do. You may also fall into the sizable "Frankly I don't care either way" category. That's fine. Reasonable people often disagree.

For those of us interested in the question of "Religious or Not?", how are we to settle our differences? When lawyers disagree on the meaning of an important word, they agree to turn to a volume called called Black's Law Dictionary. I had never heard of it until a friend and law professor mentioned it. The book is so authoritative that even the Justices of America's Supreme Court turn to for an indisputible definition of any legal term. Want to see it? Here is a link http://www.blackslawdictionary.com

As it happens, the Big Book's author, Bill Wilson, attended law school. He passed all of his courses but his drinking took a turn for the worse and he never practiced law. Bill likely knew of Black's Law Dictionary but he also knew that only a fraction of his intended readers — the lawyers — would know of it. So, if Bill Wilson's readers wanted to look up the meaning of a word like "religion", he knew they would turn to a commonly available dictionary. Since I wanted to interpret words just as Bill's earliest 1939 readers did, I acquired the most authoritative dictionary for American English in his day: a Webster's New International Dictionary Second Edition, published in 1934. (The Third Edition would not be published until the 1960s).

I opened my enormous old Webster's and looked up the word "religion". There I found a definition that is longer than any other I have ever found since that day. It read as follows:

Religion n. - The service and adoration of God or a god as expressed in forms of worship, in obedience to divine commands, esp. as found in accepted sacred writings or as declared by recognized teachers and in the pursuit of a way of life regarded as incumbent on true believers.

Whew! I labored to read and understand it. Some words came quickly while others came slowly. I knew the job of defining religion would be challenging, but this one must have kept Webster's lexicographers, etymologists, and editors working overtime. This definition seemed to ramble endlessly, which thwarted my ambition to create just one illustration for this very important word. I had been prepared for a tough assignment, but not for this!

Intimidated, I backed down from the original concept. I let several months pass while I ruminated. Finally, I reapproached the definition but this time examinging just one word at a time. My previous illustrations had focussed on the words Bill Wilson used in writing the Big Book. However, Bill Wilson had absolutely nothing do do with writing this Webster's definition. Still, the definition seemed relevant because when anyone used the word "religion" in Bill Wilson's day, this was the most widely accepted meaning and therefore its words deserved consideration. I sifted through the long passage and selected what I thought were the 12 most crucial words. I then looked each one up in the 1934 Webster's:

Service n. - the occupation, condition, or status of a servant, now esp. a domestic servant.

Adoration  n. - act of paying honor to a divine being

God (or a god) n. - the Supreme Being (or a being of more than human attributes)

Express v. - to force out by pressure

Worship n. - courtesy or reverence paid to merit or worth

Command n. - act of directing authoritatively

Writings n. - specif., act, art, or product of forming letters and characters on paper, wood, stone, etc. to record the ideas which characters and words express, or to communicate them by words or sounds.

Teacher n. - one who makes to know how

Pursuit v. - to seek

Way n. - direction of motion, progress, facing, pointing, etc.

Incumbent n. - one who is in present possession of a benefice (note: "benefice"is a temporary land holding) or of any office

True adj. - steady in adhering to friends, promises, allegiances, or the like

Maybe you would have chosen one or two different words. But bear in mind that I am an illustrator and I chose words that would benefit from what the ancients called "illumination" (i.e., visual embellishments or decorations which invite the reader to linger or reflect on particularly meaningful words or text.)

Regardless, I had found the basis for a new set of Twelve Drawings. I gave the new set a working title of "ReligionOrNot". I chose that name to reflect a long-running debate about whether people in Recovery are "religious" or not. Even outside of Recovery, I often hear people describe their own beliefs as "spiritual, but not religious". I also chose this name to acknowledge the biggest question of all......."Does it even matter whether we agree that Recovery is religious or not, as long as it works?"

You can ask that question yourself. Or not.

If someone asks me today, I would confidently answer "it doesn't matter". But my trusty Webster's dictionary has shed much new light on my view of Twelve Step recovery. So, I am open to being proven totally wrong. See that set of drawings on this website, if you like.

Thank you for reading. And please keep coming back to whatever religion, belief, spiritual experience, and/or program of Recovery nourishes your spirit.


 

Q: Be honest — what's your real motive for creating this site?

When I first achieved lengthy sobriety, I found that every word in the Big Book made much more sense to me. I thought I could get others sober by sharing the Big Book, word for word. However, I had difficulty getting others to see what I was seeing. I would speak with passion and confidence and verve and clarity — only to see their eyes glaze over with boredom. I have since discovered this is not unusual. Even AA co-founder Bill Wilson spent months of early sobriety going from bar-to-bar, trying to share his spiritual experience with other drunks. I had no better luck than Bill did.

I did not give up. I still worked with others. I encouraged them to listen to "The Big Book Comes Alive" study (see the "Who are Joe and Charlie?" section further down this screen). Unfortunately, most newcomers were far too rattled to patiently sit and listen to those recordings. They needed smaller bites of information.

I continued looking up Big Book words in a 1930s Webster's Dictionary. Those 1934 definitions brought the Twelve Steps alive more than my "modern day" dictionary had. Those old school definitions revealed much about what Bill Wilson seemed to be saying.

Determined not to forget what I learned, I began making some personal drawings to help me remember each definition. That plan worked. Many more drawings followed. Each one was a very personal responses to the deeper meanings I found in the 1930s definitions as they related to my own recovery.

As an artist, that was the only approach I could think of.

I created every drawing so it would call the viewer's attention back to the original Twelve Step literature. That's where I found the solution to my nightmarish problem. I believe others can, too. That is my real motive for my creating twelvedrawings.com.

 

Q: Are you one of those who believes The Big Book is perfect?

Absolutely not! Like any book, it is a product of who wrote, edited, and published it. It can become distorted during each of those steps. Perhaps more importantly, any "perfectly" worded statement in 1939 can become distorted by the changes in the meaning of words.

Artificial Intelligence has recently become available to the average person. It has many limitations at this early stage, but it can provide a perspective that no individual person can. Out of curiosty, I wrote the following prompt:

"The original Twelve Steps were first written in 1939 and many decades have passed since. The author, Bill Wilson, received a rigorous private school education and he completed all the courses required to earn a law degree—which usually skews a person's writing toward clearly defined words. I am curious how you would rewrite the Twelve Steps, making adjustments for the 8th grade vocabulary and reading comprehension level of today's readers. When in doubt, focus on words and expressions that are considered part of effective writing today."

Here is a simplified version of the Twelve Steps:

1. We admitted we had a problem with alcohol and that we couldn't control it on our own.
2. We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could help us.
3. We decided to turn our lives over to the care of this higher power.
4. We took a good look at ourselves and made a list of our mistakes and wrongdoings.
5. We admitted our mistakes to ourselves, to our higher power, and to another person.
6. We became ready to let our higher power help us change our bad behaviors.
7. We asked our higher power to remove our flaws.
8. We made a list of all the people we had hurt and became willing to make things right with them.
9. We made direct amends to those people whenever possible, except when doing so would hurt them or others.
10. We continued to look at our behavior and promptly admitted when we were wrong.
11. We sought to improve our relationship with our higher power through prayer and meditation, asking for knowledge and strength to do the right things.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening from these steps, we tried to help others with similar problems and practice these principles in all our actions.

I do not believe these are better than the original Twelve Steps. Some might prefer these and some might not notice much difference. I say if they work, then use them.


That's all for now. I hope to meet you as we trudge the road of Happy Destiny. Until then....May God bless you and keep you. "TwelveDrawings"

Update from TwelveDrawings in May 2024

ARE YOU STILL ALIVE? "As of May 18, 29024, I am very much alive. I am in my 60s now, and physically healthy and relatively sane.

ARE YOU STILL SOBER? "As of Today, I am still sober. I started my drawings in about 2007 and put up this site in 2011. By the grace of God, I have been sober all of that time. For me, a million sober yesterdays would not prove I could "coast"in my sobriety work Today.

HOW DID YOU DO IT? "I didn't. My Higher Power did. At my very first meeting, they closed with the words, "It works if you work it but you've got to work it every day." That is the most concrete and practical suggestion I know of, other than the Steps themselves.

ARE YOU STILL MAKING NEW DRAWINGS? "No. After completing six sets of "TwelveDrawings"(a total of 72 illustrations), I felt I was finished; I stopped drawing as abruptly as I started.

DO YOU REPLY TO EMAILS? "Unfortunately, I do not always receive emails nor do I often check comments. I do reply if I see them and have anything constructive to say as a reply. Otherwise, I live and let live. My email address is TwelveDrawings@gmail.com