Steve Jobs, In Memoriam

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.

Make Them Count

“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” – Abraham Lincoln

I’ve been thinking about death a lot lately. Not that I am morbid or depressed or suicidal by any means, but I think I have kept death close enough at bay that it has afforded me the perspective to enjoy the days that I have. Though it may sound cliche, tomorrow truly isn’t guaranteed. Today is all we got.

A friend sent me a video interview of a young lady (who, by the way, happens to be my neighbor across the street; I used to be friends with her younger brother) who lost her husband to cancer at the early age of 28. Hearing about her story was both sobering and encouraging, because though he didn’t have much time left, he made the most of each and every day. Every sunrise was special. Every meal of which he partook was truly grace. There was nothing taken for granted, and he lived every remaining moment to the fullest.

We might have not have cancer or a life-threatening disease, but aren’t we all terminally ill? Whether it’s in six months or sixty years, we are all destined to die sooner or later. What if we all lived our today’s to the fullest? What if we all resolved to make the most of every hour, to have that mindset to do the things we would one day reminisce about on our deathbeds?

What I’m most afraid of is that I would one day find myself at the end of my life, looking back and thinking what did I do with it? I don’t want to lose sight of the things that count, the moments defined in the quiet or seemingly small things, the memories shared with loved ones. I don’t want to chase the things that pass with the wind. (I hate to keep relating things to film, but it’s kind of like the final scene in American Beauty where Kevin Spacey’s character–right before he dies–looks back at his life and has an epiphany about the things that really mattered.)

This is the wisdom and wealth I have been asking for from God. In return, He has granted me the perspective that allows me to enjoy every meal, appreciate every interaction, and cherish every moment that I get to do what I love to do. Truly, in this I am rich, and I could not ask for more.

If you are blessed to go to rest tonight and rise again tomorrow, make sure to stamp carpe diem on the day you’ve been given.