“If today were the last day of my life, would I do what I am about to do today?”
–Steve Jobs, Stanford Commencement Address 2005
I wasn’t planning on writing a post about Steve Jobs. It seemed that the world had plenty to share and the myriad of Facebook messages, blog posts, articles, photos, and heartfealt wishes more than accounted for what I could add, and then I received a phone call from someone very dear to me. He asked me if I’d seen the Stanford Commencement Address, and I responded I had, several years ago while living in China. “Watch it again! Watch the part where he talks about death. Watch how he talks about life. Look at the people all over the world. Look at the memorials outside the Apple stores. Look at how he brought everyone who wanted to be connected together. His creativity. His technology. His invetiveness. He merged technology with the existance of life, and he advanced the human race and our ability to connect with one another. A Messiah was in our midst, and we didn’t even know it.”
That thought seems radical. I looked up “Messiah” in the Etymology dictionary. Most of it references Christianity and the expected deliverer of the Jewish nation. Well, I don’t think of Steve Jobs as that kind of Messiah. I prefer to focus on the part towards the end, which defines a Messiah as an “expected liberator or savior of a captive people.”
Although many of us live in free nations or don’t like to think of ourselves as captives, we have all at one time, been captive to an old idea about how do to things or a way of being that no longer serves us, our community, and possibly humanity. Steve Jobs liberated a captive people by showing them life could be different. Technology could be different. Design and the way humanity progresses all can be different. He revolutionized the user / computer experience, and it was literally something out of Star Trek when they announced the other day that the new iPhone 4s would be directed by voice commands.
If we look at the people who truly made the world different, they are the ones who absolutely loved what they did, took risks, fell on their faces, and perservered. As Jobs mentioned in his commencement address, even when he got fired from Apple, he described it as: “I’d been rejected, but I was still in love.”
The beauty in life is that although we may know of prophets like Buddha, Muhammad, Jesus, etc. and greats like Martin Luther King, Amelia Earheart, Mother Teresa, Gandhi, and countless others like them who have lived a message of freedom and peace, we can live that message too. There are the Mary Teresa Boone’s (my beloved grandmother), the Elvira’s (the janitor at work who always has a smile), and the Mr. Hoff’s (a religion teacher of mine in high school) who may not make the headlines but are living their lives and making a difference every day in the world around them. We might not all be Messiahs, or maybe we are our own Messiahs, liberating ourselves from captive ideas and ushering in a new global way of being. We each bring light and an important message to the world, just by being here. We are all part of the universe, and we are all connected.
He lived by example and showed us with every passing day that all you really have to do in life is to be yourself, whoever that is: “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”
Thank you, Steve Jobs, for your life and for your vision. Mostly, thank you for showing us that being different is a gift, that thinking different is a must, and that all those that choose to be connected, can.
**Note: All the quotes are from Steve Job’s Stanford Commencement address in 2005.**