All that I am, all that I ever was…

I am more than my mental health. I am more than my homelessness. I am more than any one aspect of me. I am Addy. And this is…

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Unsent Letter #6: In the end, what we regret most are the chances we never took

The idea for this series came to me last week whilst writing about how social anxiety has affected my life. How my inability to share myself with others prevented me from saying the things I really wanted to say. So, last night, I tore a sheet of paper into 100 pieces and upon each one wrote a name. These names were partners, teachers, acquaintances, ex-work colleagues, family members, old friends and random strangers who made a significant impact on my life.

Each day this week I will draw one of these names at random and then write them a letter.

The only rules for this challenge are:

1) The person will remain anonymous.
2) The letter should include unsaid things I always held back.
3) It shall be written as a sixty minute stream of consciousness. (i.e. no painful seven hour editing sessions, so please excuse any grammar and/or spelling mistakes)

So with all that in mind…[shakes beanie, shakes beanie again, once more for good measure, plunges hand into sea of scrunched up piece of paper, selects, reads name]…okay, this one is an anomaly because even though they’ve made a significant impact on my life – I’ve never actually met them!

8 September 2012

Dear ——–,

Given you and I have never met I want to make it clear from the very beginning just who I am. If I don’t this letter will either come across like some weird junk e-mail from an Arabian Prince or something even more creepy and disturbing that you’ll have to ask your parents about. You see ——–, I’m your Uncle, and at the time of writing you are two years old.

Your life, at this moment in time, revolves around eating scrumptuous food, playing with toys, throwing the occasional tantrum and making life as difficult as possible for your parents. If you’re not doing the latter, hop to it! They’re called the ‘terrible twos’ for a reason – until next year you have carte blanche to be as naughty and annoying as you like!

Throw food around at dinner time. Draw stuff on the walls. Stick toast into your Dad’s video game consoles. Pour honey in your mother’s hair. Sit in the middle of a supermarket screaming until your mum caves from embarrassment and gives you a chocolate bar. Vomit over a lawyer’s $10,000 suit. Bring home a stray raccoon and leave it in your parent’s bed.

Obviously, these are just a few ideas, but as your Uncle it’s part of my job to make sure you’re living life to the full. Don’t worry about your parents, they may scream and shout from time to time, but they’ll see the funny side of that racoon one day!

Anyway, I’m sure you’re far more proficient in the ways of the Dark Side (get Dad to show you if you don’t understand this pop culture reference) than I am so we’ll get on to the gist of the letter.

As you know, we’ve not had the chance to meet yet because I’m currently living in Australia publishing novels, directing motion pictures and hanging out with the Wiggles. You know the Wiggles, right? All this talk about me being a crazy homeless man is hearsay started by a rival film-maker who’s trying to discredit my project for his own nefarious (ask your mother) ends. I assure you that once I’ve finished my film I’ll invite you to the premiere so you can dazzle the crowd with your awesome tuxedo before winging you home way before bedtime so as not to earn the ire (ask your dad) of your parents.

Before that though, I’ve taken a few hours break from filming in order to pen you this letter to fulfil my duties as Uncle and partake some vitally important life-lessons that I hope will hold you in good stead for the future.

  1. Whatever anyone tells you, there are only three Indiana Jones movies. It is a trilogy that begins with Raiders of the Lost Ark and ends with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Got that? Good, now remember it always!
  2. Your mother is God. Whatever she says, you do. No questions. Unless she wants you to wear a silly Easter Bonnet made of tin-foil, in which case, don’t. Those pictures will come back to haunt you, I guarantee that!
  3. When you get to High School and start crushing on a girl (or guy) even though it feels like the hardest thing in the world – talk to them! Don’t let any anxieties get in the way of flirting with them…and only if they’re willing…kiss them, canoodle them and attend all night parties against the wishes of your parents. Trust me, you’ll regret it if you don’t.
  4. Never – ever – do drugs. If they’re ever offered to you remember Grange Hill (ask your Dad) and just say NO!
  5. Should you feel the need when older to travel the world, there are some stunningly hot girls (and guys) in Australia who are just gagging for a sexy accent like yours. And remember, what happens in the land Down Under, your parents need not ever know about.
  6. In relation to number 3, never forget Mother’s Day. Should you ever have any problems working out what to get her, your mother is a huge fan of: Civil War Re-enactments, Ed Wood movies and WWI era memorabilia.
  7. As for Father’s Day you wouldn’t be going wrong if you got him: the novels of Mills and Boon, anything from the discography of Crazy Frog, tickets to a Monster Truck Rally or mittens.
  8. Vanessa Hudgens is the world’s finest living actress. Or if she’s been cruelly snatched before her time by the time you read this, was the world’s finest actress.
  9. Apple and all its products are evil. Don’t get sucked in.
  10. You’re a man, yes, but that doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to feel emotions. Never feel bad about talking to people about any problems you have. If you don’t, if you choose to bottle it all in, chaos will ensue. I assure you.
  11. Harry Potter doesn’t exist. The entire series is a mass world-wide hallucination. Don’t fall for it.
  12. Find something you love doing and do it. Don’t let criticism, naysayers or bullies stop you.
  13. As with number 1, there are only three Star Wars movies. It is a trilogy that begins with The Phantom Menace and ends with Revenge of the Sith. Got that? Good, now remember it always!
  14. For the love of whatever you grow up to believe in, NEVER START SMOKING!
  15. Look after your teeth, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.  And yes, I mean brush them twice a day without fail.
  16. Scotland is the greatest country in the entire world. If your parents tell you otherwise, they’re lying.
  17. Christopher Nolan is an over-rated hack. The same goes for Joss Whedon, David Fincher, John Lasseter and Alfred Hitchcock. So avoid any movies by these people and go for: Michal Bay,  Brian Levant, Uwe Boll and Jason Friedberg/Aaron Seltzer instead.
  18. When your parents show you their wedding album, I am wearing a kilt not a skirt. A kilt! And before you ask, yes, beneath the kilt I was decked out in the traditional Scottish way! (ask your mother)
  19. You will go blind. It’s not an urban legend.
  20. Remember the words of the great Frasier Crane (ask your parents) always:

I should point out that, like Dads, Uncles have a terrible sense of humour. It’s part of our official duty to be as unfunny and embarrassing as possible – something I learned from experience – so it’s entirely possible I was being a little sarcastic with some – if not all – of the above pieces of advice.

The only thing you need to remember ——–, is that this is your life. Don’t let anyone tell you who you are, what you can do, where you should go or who you should spend it with, especially if they leap out at you unexpectedly carrying a big red book! (ask your Mum)

It’s up to you to live your life however you see fit, and when things go wrong (which they will, be under no illusions of that) remember there are people like your mother, your father, your grandparents and all manner of aunts and uncles who will be there to help you back on your feet. All we want is for you to have the best life possible, and we’d move mountains to help you achieve it; your mother and father especially, who love you more than you’ll ever know.

Just remember no matter how naughty you are, no matter how many times you do the wrong thing, no matter what mistakes you make, no matter how many raccoons you kidnap into your parents bed, you will always be loved.

And in the end, that’s all we need.

With love and hugs,

Uncle Addy xx