"No one wants to die." Yet, "no one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life." - Steve Jobs
"Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. ... Stay hungry. Stay foolish." - Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs, visionary co-founder of Apple, revolutionary thinker and tinkerer, packed a lot of living in while he was dying.
As you have certainly heard, he died Wednesday after living with a rare form of pancreatic cancer for more than eight years. But it wasn't just the cancer that gave him that rare ability to live fully, to make it all count. He lived that way long before the cancer. It seems he always lived like he was dying. He took risks. He dropped out of college. He tinkered endlessly in his garage. As a kid he called the head of Hewlett Packard to tell him what was wrong with the design of one of HP's products. He revolutionized our relationship with technology and technology's relationship with us.
But it was his impending death that pushed him to teach us his real legacy – the one having nothing to do with iMacs, Apple Notebooks or the iPad 2 – the legacy of how to live.
"I'll be dead soon"
Even if you don't own any Apple products and have little interest in Apple Computer's technological revolution, you will be moved by the life of Steve Jobs. In his famed commencement address in 2005 at Stanford University, he told the graduates:
"Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. ... Stay hungry. Stay foolish."
— Stanford University commencement address, June 2005.
Reams are being written and produced about the global impact of Steve Jobs on technology and commerce, the marketplace, communication, music, gadgetry and the future.
His motto "think different" was a revolution unto itself. New York Times writer Matt Bai captured one of the many paradoxes in the lessons from Mr. Jobs. In one sense, his ideas – and products – pushed us more deeply into ourselves. Personal computing made so much of life impersonal. You can work at home and never see a living soul from your office for months. You can avoid human contact altogether is you've got enough gadgetry. At the same time, Mr. Jobs, through Apple, blew open the entire world for us all. Not only could we all fly around the Internet from the comfort of our own homes, we can talk non-stop on e-mail, we can video-conference, video-chat, have cyber-visits with family and friends, share photos, video, music. We can share our lives in ways utterly unimagined.
"Steve Jobs and the idea of letting go"
In his moving tribute to Steve Jobs in The Washington Post, Hank Stuever reminds us all what Steve Jobs really taught us – to let go.
"In 2011, so much of our culture — as well as our politics — feels as though we're losing grip on the old, beloved things. Where did record stores go? What happened to letters that come in the mail? Where did movie theaters go? What about the books? Where is my Main Street? Where is my America?
Jobs had been teaching us to say goodbye to all that for decades — we just didn't know it. Some of us said goodbye to typewriters in the 1980s when we finished term papers using MacWrite on a Macintosh Plus for the first time. Some of us said goodbye when we made PTA fliers and "Lost Dog" posters that were far and away better than their Sharpie-scrawled predecessors. Let it go, let it go: Take your CDs to Goodwill; give your books to the library sale…. Let it go and look ahead was the message all along."