A lot of what you wrote in your last letter resonated with me. But in these past 365 days since you left us, there is one bit that I have taken to heart and worked very hard to make those words ring true in my own life, no matter how hard — or how hopeless — things may seem.
This is for you, Jack:
I believe in you.
Before Jack Layton died, I didn’t believe in myself or my convictions — especially when it came to politics. I didn’t vote with my heart, I voted with my head. I often marked my ballot strategically, in order to help keep the party I didn’t want to win out, instead of trying to elect the party I actually supported.
I always wanted to vote for Jack Layton’s NDP, but because I voted strategically, I never did. And now, I never will be able to cast that ballot.
The provincial election in Ontario last fall was the first opportunity for me to vote for the candidate — and party — I wanted. I didn’t vote strategically or for the candidate in my riding I “knew” was going to win. I voted with my heart. I think that last vote of mine is the most meaningful one I have ever cast.
My friends, love is better than anger.
This is a message I have always tried, not just to believe in, but to practice. There have been people who have hurt me deeply in my life, and I have worked very hard at not being angry with them, and instead forgiving them to the best of my ability.
I can only hope that those who I have hurt in my lifetime are able to do the same thing toward me. Being angry takes too much energy, it’s much easier to love than to hate.
Hope is better than fear.
Ask anyone who knows me (especially my boyfriend), I’m a big giant ‘fraidy cat. I’m scared of our stove, I’m scared of weird noises in the house, I’m scared of lots of things. The biggest thing I’m afraid of though is the unknown. But lately, I’ve been trying to let go of my fears, especially that last one.
So much so that recently I decided to veer career paths. I’m not a journalist anymore, which is something I’ve wanted to be all of my life. It’s scary, but it’s also a new journey that I’m very excited about (and liking very much). I’m hopeful about what’s ahead.
Optimism is better than despair.
Optimism is harder than despair, there’s no doubt about that. But life isn’t always easy. Looking at a glass half full can sometimes put things in a different perspective. You’ll never know what’s about to come around the corner if you give up halfway through.
It is at these times we need to take a page from Jack’s book and smile as big as we can.
So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.
I already think we are.
Thank you, Jack. For everything.
Please leave your memories of Jack Layton in the comments.