“I can’t remember if I cried when I read about his widowed bride…but something touched me deep inside…the day…the music…died…”
Don MacLean wrote American Pie in 1971 about the 1959 plane crash that took the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper. Those three musicians (especially Holly) were some of the most influential of their time and their passing was monumental; probably the saddest event in the history of music.
On Wednesday when Steve Jobs lost his battle with pancreatic cancer, the music died; a much louder, more beautiful, more inspirational, far-reaching music than the world had ever heard.
What I can’t believe is how torn up I am about this. I mean, when I heard he had passed I was shocked and then re-reading all his unbelievably inspirational quotes and seeing iconic images of him I started to feel genuinely sad like a friend had died. Finally, on Thursday I went to Apple’s homepage and honestly shed a tear when this is all that was there.
Wow. He’s really gone. He was so other-worldly I guess I just assumed he’d never leave us. But in the end, the pancreatic cancer he had no way of fixing or making better (as he did with everything he ever touched) took his life after a mere 56 years. I guess I write this because I want you to know what he and his innovations have meant to me my entire life. He wasn’t just some guy to me, he was a true inspiration; a hero.
An Apple IIe was the first computer I ever used with it’s black and green screen and I fell in love with Oregon Trail and simple word/math games in elementary school. My Dad bought the first Macintosh where I first played with this new device called a “mouse” and painted the crappiest drawings you’ve ever seen with the spraycan or pencil tools in MacPaint. I remember what a huge deal it was in junior high when the school got an entire computer lab of Apple IIgs’ with their rad color screens! Yes, I was raised on Apple computers and I loved them. What Apple did for education was monumental. The long-running joke had always been that Apple computers were for education and graphic designers but where would I/we be without Apple’s contributions to education?
I switched my life over to 100% apple about 4 years ago and I’ve never looked back. As I type this on my iMac and navigate with my Magic Mouse, listening to a podcast downloaded through iTunes and backing it up on the Time Capsule which also acts as my router I’m checking a text I just received on my iPhone and sending someone an email using my me.com email address and will be heading out later with my Macbook Air to meet someone to discuss business plans. So yeah, you might say that I am a big fan of the products and services Apple offers and with good reason: they are the best.
Sadly, there had become this “us vs. them” mentality of the devout Apple users pitted against the die-hard PC folks, exemplified in Apple’s brilliant “I’m a Mac…” ad campaign. What the PC people forget is that it’s that competition with Apple that helped advance their hardware and software to where it is today. Never-mind who is “better” both Apple and Microsoft or the PC community at large are better because of Steve Jobs. Jobs vs. Gates was always played up but I’m guessing if you asked Bill Gates about the matter he’d say the same thing. If you have ever used a computer, you owe the way you interact with that computer to Steve Jobs. The invention of the Macintosh computer and the Mac OS in 1984 was the dawn of the modern computer and started us down a path we never knew possible and brought about products such as Microsoft Windows and a booming PC industry…and it was Steve Jobs who got the ball rolling.
But for me, the most important thing that Steve Jobs contributed was his passion, his dedication to accomplishing things that many believed were not possible or better yet he just did things that nobody thought of. Watch the video above; it’s unbelievably inspirational and if you thought the passing of Steve Jobs was no big deal, think again…this was one of greatest human beings that’s ever lived and reading or hearing his words gives me goosebumps. He was one stubborn SOB and many times that came off as arrogance but it wasn’t arrogance it was belief in what he was doing and maybe even a bit of frustration with the world around him who doubted him; I can identify with this more than you know. I always admired that about him and that dedication, that unwavering belief in that what he was doing was the best, was right and could be done has inspired me more than a blog piece can explain.
If you know me at all you know I’m different; I think differently than anyone I know in anything/everything I do and I’ve always looked at Jobs as inspiration because he was proof that thinking differently and believing in what you feel and know deep inside is all you ever need to be successful, happy. The slogan “think different” will always be associated with Steve Jobs and that passion for looking at something and saying “yeah, but I want to do something different…” is what made him so amazing. He revolutionized the distribution of music, how we interact with a computer and so many other things because he thought differently. He didn’t just come up with solutions, he came up with entirely new paradigms and created things we’d never imagined or knew we wanted or needed yet here we are swiping at our smartphones or gesturing our way through a webpage like it’s commonplace. That’s the most important thing about Jobs to me: he created. He didn’t just build a better mousetrap, he created an entirely new way to trap mice you never imagined. He always seemed to be a step or 3 ahead of everyone and living in his own little world and sharing that world with us one piece at a time.
And now, we have to trust that his successors can continue his legacy and maybe in a poetic way it’s fitting that Apple’s HQ is located on a street named “Infinite Loop” where Steve’s legacy will live on in perpetuity.
So, thank you Steve. From the bottom of my heart and with every fiber of my being, I thank you for everything you did for the world around you but especially for me, personally. I lost my hero on Wednesday but I’ll never lose the passion for life, the belief that anything is possible, that with hard work and dedication it’s possible for ordinary people to do extraordinary things, that I will encounter myriad people who will challenge and question what I know and believe in my heart, that life is a gift and that following your heart will never leave you astray…all things that you personified more so than anyone I’ll ever know.
October 5, 2011: The day the music died