This post won’t be what you expect it to be.
Yes, I am mourning Steve Jobs’ death. He was there for almost my entire childhood.
My dad got our first Mac SE when I was 6, well before most people had home computers, to write his dissertation. We then had a series of Macs, from several Performas, a PowerMac or two, the famous Cube, my beloved grape iMac G3, my also beloved “basketball” iMac G4 (I love this ad. This is what solidified my love for this computer), all the way to our current big-screen iMac, along with our iPhones and iPads. I am a born-and-raised Macolyte, and Steve Jobs was the driving force behind most of that (not to mention I ADORE Pixar, and he was instrumental there too).
But no, this post is more about my own unexpected reactions to his passing.
Always. Fucking. Cancer.
So yes, that is horrible and awful and I hate it, but there’s even more. My friend Niki posted Steve Jobs’ commencement address to Stanford. People have been posting and reposting quotes from this everywhere, but I think the full piece is well worth a read.
The lines that spoke to me the most are not the ones being posted everywhere.
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…
…(Being diagnosed with thought-to-be terminal cancer) was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept
Probably because most people on Facebook haven’t had that cold confrontation with the absolute reality that is mortality. That’s probably a good thing. But these words struck me deep, deep. It’s one thing to be 17 and think “If today were the last day of my life…” because you know it most likely isn’t. Death is still a useful tool to help you orient your life, but it’s still an “intellectual concept,” as he so aptly puts it.
When death no longer is an intellectual concept, but your own reality, things looks a little different.
I tried to use Jobs’ question to myself about “Would I want to do what I’m about to do today?” and got about .2 seconds into thinking before I felt the panic rise again. That cold fear gripped me. What if today WAS my last day? What if this week was? I love every single second of my time with my beautiful daughter and love our conversations and smiles and flirting, but if today was my last day? I wouldn’t spend it doing that. I would spend it writing for her, making videos so she wouldn’t forget me, telling her all the things I would want her to know about me.
I’m much MUCH too close to this reality to be able to use this as a useful tool. So I will try to intellectualize his death as much as I can, to stop feeling it so much. I will avoid reading quotes on Facebook, avoid clicking through to articles about him.
It’s sad, but I don’t have to be sad. That’s NOT my reality any more, so I DON’T need to think about each day as my last because it is NOT USEFUL for me now. Maybe someday it will be, but today, I will keep embracing the future.