Jack Layton passed away on Monday, and you'd think I was grieving the death of a close family member. Me and so many other Canadians, it seems. It wasn't until I watched his state funeral yesterday that I realized where part of my sadness was coming from: I feel burdened by the weight of having to pick up where Jack left off.
Put plainly, it would take a hundred people like me to bring about as much change as he did. Not only because I'm not a City Councillor or Member of Parliament, but mostly because I don't have Jack's energy, drive, and can-do attitude. Right now, and often, I lack the hope and optimism which, as he wrote in his open letter to Canadians, he wants us to embrace in order to change the world.
It didn't matter that I was moved to see how many people lined the streets along the route his procession took from City Hall, where he lay in state on Saturday morning, to Roy Thomson Hall, where his funeral was held on Saturday afternoon; I felt despair. It didn't matter how many of us showed up in the square beside the hall to watch his funeral on big outdoor screens; I felt despair. It didn't matter how many standing ovations were given by the guests when various eulogists conveyed Jack's message of hope; I felt despair. There are too few of us. And there is - was - only one of him. Jack, I'm really sorry, but today I don't see a bright future ahead of us.
But tomorrow is Monday, and it's the start of a new week. I can't give in to this feeling, which may be fleeting. What I need right now is to do something that will inspire, motivate, and ground me again. Move me past my grief and back into action. I just don't know what that is right now.
Photo of Sisyphus used under Creative Commons from AJ Cann (AJC1/flickr).
Photos of chalk tributes at City Hall used under Creative Commons from Jackman Chiu (close-up and wide/flickr).