I always wanted to pronounce Steve Jobs’ name as in the Book of Job, which now seems fitting: it just doesn’t seem fair he’s not around anymore. Think of it: unless you’re a baby or a very old person, your life is different because of him. We hardly think about record players or even CD’s anymore; we walk around staring into little black screens that can also make calls and take pictures and find answers on the internet; we carry our whole computer world around in a slim black tablet. And it seems so strange that all these things live on, while he is gone.
I edit our hospice newsletter, and this month, just by serendipity, I included an excerpt from the commencement address Jobs gave at Stanford in 2005 – it’s the one, if you’ve listened to NPR today, you’ve heard them quote. I wonder if he thought about this part yesterday, when he was dying:
When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
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.
Lying there, maybe naked, at least he knew he’d followed his heart, made the big choices, and changed our lives.
Jobs said once that taking LSD was “one of the two or three most important things [he had] done in [his] life.” I’d like to think it helped him transition to wherever he is now; I’d actually really like to think he’s still here, still inventing and creating jobs; just invisible, behind the cloak.