Tuesday, August 23, 2011

On Jack Layton and Life

Getting out of bed this morning was difficult. Despite a good night’s sleep, it felt like the morning after a night of drink and dance. Those days are long behind me! I lay in bed for about forty minutes before finally pushing back the counterpane, dressed, and made for my desk to write my morning pages. By 8:00 am I was heading out the door for my morning run.

Like a lot of people, Jack Layton’s passing caught me unawares. I remember the images of him in July — frail and thinner — as he announced he was stepping aside temporarily as leader of the NDP to undergo treatment for the latest round of cancer. I expected to see Mr. Layton back in his House of Commons seat in September, passionately taking on the Conservatives — working for the betterment of Canadians and this country as a whole.

Mr. Layton and I weren’t best friends or acquaintances. In fact, we’ve never met. But since 2003, he has been a prominent figure on the federal political scene and, consequently, in my life (I need my daily dose of political news, which I get online via the Globe and Mail and CBC.ca). That’s why Mr. Layton’s death has me once again thinking about my life, where I’m headed. Am I still moving confidently in the direction of my dreams?

I believe in progressive change, and that we can build a more inclusive and generous Canada. But in order for this country to shine, we must first shine ourselves. That means, first and above all, “[…] to thine own self be true,” to invoke Shakespeare. We must not be afraid to be ourselves. It is when we are following our heart’s desire — living out our dreams and not those handed down to us — that we can contribute honestly and effectively to the building of a better world, a better Canada.

Mr. Layton was right: “[…] love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.”

Today I’m living inside of hope.

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