There is nothing I can say that hasn’t already been said about Steve Jobs, undoubtedly a genius of a certain kind, who pushed technology forward at a faster clip than it would otherwise have moved, who made elegant, little toys that are nearly indistinguishable from magic and thereby changed how we live.
Of course, given that he died at a shockingly young age (56), the video that most news outlets led with is from Jobs’ commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005. I’ve heard it so many times now since Wednesday afternoon and I can recite it verbatim:
“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.”
Most of you who read this blog are, like me, of an age to know this all too well: “You will gradually become the old and be cleared away.” It happens all too swiftly as Steve Jobs learned sooner than the rest of us.
However, in the same breath as his message of impending doom in that commencement speech, Jobs appealed to our better selves and although his audience that day was young people, no one is too old to hear this:
“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.”
I’ve always known that, but too often I forget for awhile.
I began this week by writing about why I continue to blog on this topic of aging. As happens regularly, by Wednesday or so I was asking myself again why I push on every day, particularly when nothing seems to get better for elders, when I’m not in a position to influence people who can change anything and I’d rather go to the movies or take a nap.
Now I remember why I keep going – “the courage to follow your heart and intuition” – because Steve Jobs reminded me. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person he has inspired through the years.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Steve Kemp: Life is Good