Like everyone else in Gen X, I’m sort of inexplicably moved by the death of Steve Jobs, founder of Apple Computer, Pixar, inventor of the i-Life and responsible for two of my five year old’s heroes, Buzz and Woody.
Why? Did I know him? No. Did I like him? In sort of a far off, appreciative way I guess. The guy was certainly iconic, in his glasses and turtleneck. He seemed cool, in his glasses and turtleneck, living in Silicon Valley making things we all wanted to buy.
I remember feeling this way about the death of Princess Diana. I admired her style, admired her charity work. She seemed like a good mother and certainly resilient after all she’d been through. And I was deeply moved by her untimely death.
I guess it comes down to this: If the rich and famous and charitable can’t avoid death, then what chance do the rest of us suckers have?
Boy, that’s a punch in the gut.
None. The answer is none. We’re all dying, whether we have bajillions of dollars and a lovely tiara and the adoration of millions or…. not.
And if you think that’s depressing, well, yes, and no.
Lots of people are quoting Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford commencement speech today and I’m going to join the throng. Because it’s good stuff. It’s wisdom that all of us should get to hear now and again, not just recent 22 year olds with freshly minted Stanford diplomas (lucky bastards).
Here’s the part I want to share today:
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
Are you crying? Laughing? Feeling vaguely uncomfortable?
Steve Jobs followed his inner voice and changed the world. Close your eyes and listen to yours. What is it saying today?