I had initially written a post that I was going to publish about the movie 50/50. In light of today’s events, I decided to veer off course a bit and write in memoriam of the late Steve Jobs (1955-2011). Either way, I guess I’m still talking about cancer.
I didn’t know Steve Jobs personally. Unlike his neighbor, I never said hello or passed him while jogging. Nor am I an Apple fanatic. I do not own an iPad or iPhone or Macbook. I do have an iPod, but I purchased that about 5 years ago with the help of a huge gift card dangling over my head. I don’t hate Apple–in fact, I think its brand and products are rather cool–I just don’t plan on having Apple dominate every facet of my life anytime soon (well, until they come out with iGiveup).
Yet when the news about Steve broke out today I was stunned. This is the man who has shaped and steered our generation for the past decade. He has been at the forefront of every big technological shift and was featured on countless magazine covers. We knew him as publicly as the President. Now he’s gone, at an age (56) that leaves us wondering how much was left on the table.
Steve Jobs ensured that his memory will live on by the impact he had on those around him. His legacy is not defined only by his products or company, but rather in his thoughts and ideals. He is one who taught us to pursue our dreams with reckless abandon, to endure even when circumstances are dire, and to live everyday as though it were our last. He showed us what it meant to envelop the work of our hands in the passion of our hearts, knowing that in so doing we would never have worked a day in our lives.
Even in his passing Steve is teaching. His death reminds us that life truly is short. It reminds us that cancer is no joke. It is no respecter of persons. Neither the rich or poor are immune. Nor the young or old, black or white, famous or not. All it takes is one simple cell to do some wicked math before it starts dividing uncontrollably, and the next thing you know you’re going in for treatment and surgeries–or worse, your funeral.
Cancer is a great playwright of tragedy, and sans a higher being who has the final say and direction, we’d be tempted to think when looking at lives “short-lived” that there are many a story left without proper conclusion. But Steve would be the first to tell you that the tragedy wouldn’t be found so much in the number of days unfulfilled–it’d be resonant in the days that were left empty. Steve Jobs wasn’t without his foibles, but no one could deny he lived each day with purpose and passion. As hard as that is to fathom, his love might have possibly exceeded his brilliance. And as it stands that would be his magnum opus.
Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.