1. Quicksand


1. QUICKSAND   Quicksand needs no explanation, right? Everyone has seen it in the movies. In the typical scenario, a group is walking on a jungle path when WHOOPS the first person suddenly disappears up to their waist in a pit. The fallen victim realizes with horror that they are rapidly sinking. “Help!” they exclaim,…

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2. Root & Branch

Root and Branch

2. ROOT & BRANCH   I love the clarity of the words Bill W. used in this metaphor. He asked God to remove his defects of character “root and branch”. Those three words spoke clearly of his desire to have his problem fixed AND to also have the underlying causes removed. I wanted to make a…

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3. Mountaintop


3. MOUNTAINTOP   The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous was written by a severe alcoholic named Bill Wilson. In it, Bill reported several close scrapes with death. Because alcoholism is a progressive condition, he recognized that each low was getting lower. One day, he got an unexpected call from an old drinking buddy named Ebby…

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4. Passengers


4. PASSENGER   The sinking ocean liner has remained an enduring image since the Titanic was lost. Until recently, a movie named after that ship was the most popular film in history. Bill W. used that tragic episode as a metaphor on page 17 of the Big Book. Various people may interpret it differently, but…

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5. Reed


5. FLIMSY REED   Bill W. wrote the Big Book in a way that reminds me of everyday conversation, plus formal academic writing, plus grandfatherly advice, plus poetic prose. That poetic streak showed up in an obscure but (for me) powerful sentence on page 28. It reads as follows: “What seemed at first a flimsy…

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6. Legs


6. MAN WITHOUT LEGS   On page 30 of the Big Book of AA, Bill W made a statement that has always haunted me. He wrote “We are like men who have lost their legs; they never grow new ones.” Here was a sentence that left no room for escape. Bill had to leave no…

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7. Jaywalker


7. JAYWALKER        If a vote were taken, the most beloved character in the Big Book probably be the Jaywalker. My hunch is based on the grins, laughter, and head-nodding I see in meetings whenever that character is described. If you have even casually read the Big Book, you probably remember his story.…

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8. Wringer


8. WRINGER   This drawing is important because laundry wringers have completely disappeared from the average home today. The people, places, and things that inspired most of Bill Wilson’s metaphors remain intact today, including ocean liners, jaywalkers, men without legs, etc. But it is mostly a dwindling number of older people who know first-hand what…

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9. Actor


9. ACTOR   When I first read the Big Book of AA, I was on on a sort of mental autopilot. I was hurting and distracted. Honestly, I didn’t care very much what this man in the 1930s had to say. I respected his military service, but that was in WORLD WAR I…more than 100…

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10. Arch


10. TRIUMPHANT ARCH   You may know that a triumphant arch (a.k.a. triumphal arch) is a type of monument found in ancient Rome. Despite its resemblance to a doorway, it not an entryway into a city or any physical place. Instead, this monument stood in a visible location and usually served as a reminder of a…

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