I must have been the last to know that Steve Jobs was dying. I just figured he was taking some time away from the stress of running Apple. After all, the guy had been through cancer treatment, invented the iMac, iTunes, iPod, iPhone, iPad and iDon'tknowwhatelse. I just thought it made sense—he must have realized there was more to his life than work and that now he could take a break, maybe study Tai Chi and enjoy a sunset. Maybe he was working on something even more extraordinary that he couldn't talk about. Maybe he was just enjoying his family. Maybe he had become a serious meditation student—he probably already was; his mind showed that kind of great clarity and insight.
So when I received the text about his death as I ate my burrito bowl at Chipotle yesterday I was instantly blown away and started to cry. He meant that much to me. As he may have meant to you, or maybe not. You kind of had to be one of the converted to think of him as family, as the big brother you didn't have, the one who was a crazy but benevolent genius and sent magnanimous birthday and Christmas presents. He fit into the small group of men I could of but didn't marry (in that fantasy universe): Prince Charles being one of them, back when he was just young, rich and kind of cute.
But I digress.
Surprised tears penetrating my face at Chipotle and at Trader Joe's where I stopped for a soothing dark chocolate candy bar. Life felt more dear and fragile. I felt again how related we all are.
This post isn't about Steve Jobs. This post is about my own experience of his loss, and about love for the computer I'm typing on and the man who helped invent it. It's about my love for the graphics interface system—not having to type commands, but being able to "double-click" on a symbolic icon. It's about my love of the internet and all those, including Al Gore, who made it possible. I love Steve Wozniak, too, who really deserves much more recognition for being an inventor of the Mac than he gets. Here's what he said yesterday:
Jobs "gets a reputation for being a strong leader and for being brash. But to me he was always so kind, such a good friend." (USA Today)
And to me, that's how Steve Jobs came across. As kind, brash, and such a good friend.
For the record, I started computing back in the early 90s on a hand-me-down Apple IIe with floppy discs and a black screen with glowing green letters. I graduated to bigger and better Macs. I most loved it when everything was less internet-biased and there were fewer ads, when you had to do a little bit of programming to run a checkbook, when you had to get under the hood and de-conflict the thing for all it was worth when it stalled out.
Now that it's easy and everyone loves them, it's easy to forget that back in the early 90s I was told by a CompUSA salesman not to buy a Mac because the company would be out of business within 6 months. Now CompUSA no longer exists. (I hope all those employees have found good jobs.)
Steve Breen in the San Diego Union ran a cartoon today of Steve Jobs in heaven being greeted by Einstein and Edison. Such an apropos image.
May he truly rest in peace after his short life. He was a brief, shooting star. He came, he brought gifts, and he left. Maybe that's what he was meant to do. I will miss him, as will many—even Bill Gates. The things he helped bring into this world truly do help it be a bigger, better, more compassionate place.
May YOU be happy, may you be well. Hug somebody today. Look at your technology as what it is—a tool for expression, creativity, and communication, whether you're a Mac or a PC.
Thank you, Steve.