Requiem For a Drunken Indian, By John MartinTweet
Today is a good day to live!
It’s a solemnly beautiful Los Angeles evening. The moon arcs high overhead. A big, bright summer moon shines magnificently- opulent and daunting. It’s so huge I want to reach out and spin it the way our primordial ancestors must have wanted to do millions of years ago on a desolate subsaharan African savannah. It’s Friday night and I am so thankful to be sober. There are many miles to go and my path is primed with a myriad of life battles left to fight. I am Oglala Lakota, a blessed member of an elite group of human beings. I represent the last vestiges of a once proud and great warrior society.
However, I am not a warrior, I am simply a man. I am a drunken Indian. Though I am not currently under the self-destructive influences of wine or spirits, it is extremely critical to remind myself of my faults. They define a personal narrative, one pushed to the limits of alcoholic insanity. At the height of my drinking career I drank heavily, with a intensely savage abandon, not to chase my demons but to hunt them down and make them capitulate.
A dark necessity of evil impelled my drunken heart of darkness to push the envelope. I learned how to first to drink when I was a young trooper in the U.S. Army. As with my older brother and my father before him military service was compulsory- a non-Native post-modern method of madness. A family crucible required to earn ones manhood. A rite of passage. Unfortunately, for me, drinking was also a compulsory family tradition. On your eighteenth birthday you joined the military, you drank to prove your worthiness to call yourself a man. Failure to unconditionally participate in both was not an option.
Ensuing a four year stretch with the Army, I was discharged with honor. I met a beautiful woman, procreated four wonderful children, worked and attended college. I continued to consume alcohol with a vengeance, woefully unaware of the fact that alcohol was consuming me, devouring large chunks of my soul like a hungry Tyrannosaur. I would lose entire weeks lost in self-loathing drunken stupors. I would always preempt a binge with an excuse based on self-pity. I had to justify my selfish, self-indulgent alcoholic narcissism in order to checkmate the guilty cognitive dissonance that began to accompany my drinking. I was, for all intent and purpose, out of control. Miserably so.