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Having grown up in a time where Steve Jobs was building his empire, I can look at him, his death and with absolute certainty say, “Gone too soon.”

I remember when I was in the 7th grade, heading over to my friend Kecia’s house on the weekends. We’d walk down the street to Pat’s house where he and I and Kecia and another boy, Brooks, would swim for hours upon hours in Pat’s pool. Sometimes when it got late, Pat’s mom would call us into the house and shove food under our noses. Pat’s house was like none I’d ever been in before. In hindsight, I think his parents were perhaps artist hippie throw-backs from the 60’s. There were tons of cuckoo clocks and neon signs and just strange stuff everywhere in the house. Tucked in a built-in desk between the kitchen and the dining room, there amongst all the crazy knick-knacks and artwork, was an Apple computer. We played some mean games of Space Invaders on that thing, using only the arrow keys to move and the space bar to fire; switching seats to let others play, while his dad read the newspaper and his mom tinkered about in the kitchen. Old school, yo.

We had a computer too, a Commodore 64. My mom was actually a computer programmer in the mid-1960’s, where the equivalent of a desktop computer used to take up an entire room! She’s sit for hours in front of that Commodore, writing and writing and writing what looked like total gibberish. One day, I heard her laughing and clapping in front of the computer. I walked in to see if she’d gone completely kookoo for Coco Puffs and she called me over to the screen and said, “Watch this!” She hit “enter” and a little stick figure man jerkily walked to the center of the screen, did about 3 jumping jacks and then walked off the other side of the screen. I was dumbfounded. “Did YOU do that?” I asked her? “I did!” she replied, with an enormous grin on her face. She showed me how. I made a stick figure of my own, but then just decided that I could draw a stick figure faster than I could program one. Oh, so naive.

So last night, I’m watching Brian Williams (*swoon*) talk about the death of Steve Jobs and it took me back to those nights at Pat’s house, playing on what was probably one of the very first Apple products ever created. As I listened to Brian talk about Jobs, I realized how larger than life this man was. He (with Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak) changed our society, changed our entire world and culture with his inventions. The simple task of snatching an icon with your mouse and dragging it to the trash can – all from this man. He revolutionized typography and turned the music industry on it’s ear with the invention of the iPod.

Aside from obvious intelligence, he was also a scholar of life. His cancer diagnosis forced him into a life perspective that we can all try to take a hold of. Last night NBC showed a clip of Jobs at Stanford’s 2005 graduation, touting his speech as the Gettysburg Address of commencement speeches. You can read the whole thing here, but I wanted to share what I found most moving. It was his reaction to being fired from Apple:

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

After a day of doing what felt like a constant spinning of wheels, I took this to heart. I’m am trying to do what I love. I’m trying not to settle.

I had argued with The Candyman when he came home last night, in a foul mood because I felt overwhelmed and rejected and scared and angry. I heard this clip and wanted to kick myself in my own pants. I calmed  down and apologized to The Candyman.

I realize that the road to where I’m going is definitely not a straight one and it certainly has its share of potholes.  I have no map, but neither did Jobs. He blazed his way into unknown territory and did what others said was impossible. My ambitions aren’t necessarily as lofty as an iPad or even a dancing stick figure, but I have them. I suppose the only thing to do is to follow them, fail some and hopefully, become successful from those lessons learned.

We will all remember Jobs for the products he gave us, but he was more than just “products.” I think Steve Jobs embodied the spirit of following your heart and dreams. We could all learn from that, aye?

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Reader Comments (1)

I listened to Steve Job's commencement speech at Stanford, during which he made the above comments. I thought of you when I heard those words.

October 7, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMom

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