I’ll admit I’m a little late on the death of Steve Jobs. Truth be told, I didn’t know he’d died until two days after the fact. It was all over the news and the internet, people tell me. And you couldn’t pick up a newspaper without seeing his face on the front page. I guess that’s why I hadn’t heard. I don’t really keep up with the news. I’ve found it helps me enjoy the world more.
More truth: I hate computers. Maybe that’s the half-Amish side of me talking. Maybe I’m secretly afraid technology will steal my soul. Or maybe it’s the simple fact that I’ve never been able to work them well. Whichever the case, I count myself among the few who trust pen and paper more than keyboard and screen.
I heard last week that his biography, titled simply Steve Jobs, will be released sooner than expected. Evidently he granted his biographer unparalleled access to his life and sat for hours of interviews. Quite a coup, given that Mr. Jobs was a pretty private man. The book is already number one on Amazon. Sony purchased the movie rights for a million dollars.
Imagine, someone paying a million dollars for the rights to make a movie about your life. Your accomplishments. Imagine being called this century’s Thomas Edison. Or being compared to Leonardo da Vinci.
And yes, that’s the sort of person I’d like to be. Shouldn’t we all? I’m around college kids five days a week, almost ten hours a day. You know what? Most of them don’t want to become great. Most of them have somehow become convinced that they’re already great. They don’t want to affect the world, they want the world to affect them. I think that’s kind of sad.
I think there should be more people who say “I want to put a ding in the universe,” as Steve Jobs once said.
That’s what he did. He dinged the universe. But I wonder at what cost. His biography was written with his permission, he sat down and did all those candid interviews, not for the reason you might think. Not to inspire or inform the world Steve Jobs helped to transform, but simply because of this:
“I want my kids to know who I am.”
Of all the things I’ve read about Steve Jobs over the last week or so, that’s the one that stands out. Not the iPod or the iPad or the iPhone, but the iWant.
It takes a lot of effort to put a ding into the universe. A lot of time and failure and trying again. A lot of passion. It demands that priorities be set clear. Things like work take precedent. Things like family do not. And while I’m thankful for the Steve Jobs of the world and their dedication, the sacrifice the make is one too steep for me.
Steve Jobs’ death struck me. By all accounts he was a brilliant man who changed our world. There are a good many people in this world who long for those two things—to be both brilliant and remembered. I don’t mind saying I count myself among them. But honestly, the odds are good I’ll be neither. Maybe you, too. More probable than not, I will pass through this life just as the billions before me. My footprints upon this earth will be small and vanish. My picture will never grace the front page. The world will not notice my passing.
I will not ding the universe.
But when my time comes to trade this world for the next, I will pass with a smile. I’ll be ready, because I may not have much, but my kids will know who I am.