Dearest Brother Gavin.
I appear before you and your Ottawa clan with only love and wisdom, here on your 18th birthday.
Regardless of whether you can buy beer in Quebec or Alberta, and not in Georgia, when a man is old enough to don a uniform to fight and perhaps die for his country, he is undoubtedly a man.
And think for a moment of all of your experiences to date, everything that has brought you this far. All your trials and missteps, lessons learned along the way. These are behind you now.
And think a bit about what you know; adding the sum of your knowledge to date and you will probably immediately realize you have much to learn. It’s something you will say to yourself again at 30, 40, 50 and each decade beyond.
And think about your parents. Think about your father.
Realize now how all of us inherit the temperaments of our fathers and our father’s fathers. You will have a great deal of Barnaby in you, and in turn, some Howard Carew Wallace, some Howard Vincent Wallace, some Thomas Patrick Wallace, some John Wallace and even some of his father, our founding immigrant Thomas Wallace.
Each of these men will echo endlessly down through time in you, as well as other men and cherished women who have come before you and contributed to your being. One day you will echo endlessly in others.
You are the culmination of two centuries of improvement, of 200 years of refinements in the search for freedom.
For that is what each man lives for: for freedom.
That is the past. You have the future to look to. Your growth will be based on how well you negotiate and improve on the temperaments of the male predecessors from which you came.
Never to be rejected, only assimilated and improved upon. You are a Wallace.
This is a journey each man must take alone. Oh, you will always have your clan by your side, and if not physically, at least in spirit. But your travels in spirit and wisdom are yours alone. It’s as if you are lost in the forest and no one is coming for you; by your own wits you must now find your way home, to freedom.
I have no earth shattering advice for you. Well, actually, I have plenty.
The first is to watch for key decisions. You will know when these occur because of their difficulty. These are the moments upon which a life turns. Make a good one and advance, a poor one and retreat.
It is these times when you must take your time and consult widely amongst your trusted circle, family and clan, uncles and siblings, advisors and trusted individuals.
To do that you must keep these people close to your heart. Attachment to others is our greatest need. “No man is an island, entire of itself; every man a piece of the continent, a part of the main,” said John Donne in Devotions.
Connection to others can mean your life or your death; you must choose wisely outside of your clan for who these people will be.
When you make such decisions, have a goal in mind and work it backwards from there to the moment you are deciding your direction.
Other than that, realize that everything in life worth having will come from doing that which is good for you, for those around you and for your society at large. You will find service to the greater good to be the fastest way to fulfillment.
And you must develop your personal power. For men, it is through their careful cultivation of power over their lives and power wielded for good that brings them freedom. Your life will be a series of battles, with some defeats and many victories; each a death and a rebirth, each another step to freedom.
Power will also get you the attention of females. Women are hopelessly attracted to men of power and confidence. To know this is to know the secret to unlocking the doors of love.
Which brings me to this book: it’s called The Way of the Superior Man. It is used, slightly dog-eared as the best books often are. If you have the balls to read it at your age, it will answer many of your questions. I can answer the rest. Seriously. Or ask Uncle Matt. He knows a thing or two.
It is the book I would have written. When I read it, its eloquence was so precise that I bowed to the author in respect. I will one day write a sequel.
It will teach you many things if you dare read it. Among them: how to handle premature ejaculation using an ancient eastern breathing technique.
And if you find the notion of becoming a Superior Man daunting, I’d ask you to consider not fear as fear; instead… think of fear as excitement. Fear is but a call for action. Action is the only thing the universe recognizes.
So with much love and affection, hope and goodwill I say:
Go forth my young nephew. Be bold.
True and Free.