“So I draw because I want to talk to the world. And I want the world to pay attention to me.
I feel important with a pen in my hand. I might grow up to be someone important. An artist. Maybe a famous artist. Maybe a rich artist.
So I draw because I feel like it might be my only real chance to escape the reservation.
I think the world is a series of broken dams and floods, and my cartoons are tiny little lifeboats.”
—The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian, Sherman Alexie, pg. 6
I can’t tell you how many times someone my age or older has said that this 2007 juvenile fiction book is great. Even as I was checking it out, Charlie the librarian said, “This is a great book.” I was curious as to why everyone was raving about it. Needless to say, it is a great book. It balances precariously within the tone of an adolescent: alternately funny and sad, pathetic and witty, angry and giddy, afraid and lustful. Not only does it capture a teenage boy’s mind, but it also addresses the beauty and the pain of living on a reservation as a Native American in a time when all men are supposed to be equal and the cycle of destruction on the rez continues to tear lives apart. It is honest and hopeful all at the same time.
ANYWAY (I’m into capitalization for emphasis these days), this quote from the book struck me. Junior is a cartoonist. He draws to express himself. He’s a 14-year-old Native American boy stuck on a reservation with no future in sight. And somehow, he grasps hold of hope and won’t let it go. Somehow, he feels like he is destined for more than becoming an alcoholic like his ancestors before him. All of us, we’re the same way. We want the world to listen to us – hello, Facebook/Twitter/Myspace. Even blogs show our desperation to be heard by someone outside of ourselves. We need to be able to grab onto our lifeboats, to work at the things that help us keep our heads above water. Those are the things we need to be investing our time and lives into, because we’ll need those investments when the dams break and the rains fall.
Basically, I need to get off of my butt and do something.