It began as an ordinary cab ride.
I jumped in the taxi on a dismally grey May morning en route to downtown Halifax, anxious about an upcoming meeting.
Frazzled, I heaved my belongings across the back seat of the vehicle and started tapping on my phone, when suddenly the cab driver asked, “Would you like to write in this?”
He then passed me a black ballpoint pen and a chestnut-brown, distressed leather notebook, its cover decorated with Victorian-era engravings enclosing a couple hundred pages of thick, manila paper.
On its outer edge was written: Book of Love.
“What is it?” I asked, to which he replied, “Just open it.”
What I found were hundreds of notes penned by the people who had sat in that cab before me.
“Write something positive,” he said. “With so many terrible things on the news, it’s good to remember the positive things.”
Radafy Ranaivo has been passing his Book of Love to cab passengers since December 2012.
A former mixed marital arts fighter, it started as a journal — a way to alleviate aggression. But it quickly transformed into a personal mission to spread love and positivity, he said.
Ranaivo said he was inspired by a regular passenger, an older woman named Edna who wore a permanent smile and collected loose change in a ziploc bag for the Salvation Army.
“It’s just amazing. It makes people’s day,” said Ranaivo, dressed in an ordinary light blue T-shirt and a red fleece jacket, his black hair sweeping in every direction.
“I want to help make the world different. Not different — how it’s supposed to be.”
People young and old have scribbled passages in a variety of languages, including French and Arabic. It’s also taken trips to France and Bermuda.
“I have learned to live one day at a time and to live it to the fullest,” wrote Roberta, her messy penmanship a clear indicator of a bumpy cab ride.
“There is a little good in bad and a little bad in good,” quipped 11-year-old Tatyana.
Ranaivo said he does encounter the odd passenger that isn’t receptive to the Book of Love. But he tries to get them talking in the hopes of changing their mood, or tells them to read the entries.
“We have to believe in good and give a chance to everyone,” said the 40-year-old Ranaivo, who came to Canada from Madagascar 20 years ago.
“Give them positive and you give them purpose.”