Jobs: The Man, the Moment and Melancholy

By Team YS|3rd Nov 2011
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Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs leaves an indelible impression

The man...

Can there be someone else who openly swore at competitors? He was blatantly arrogant at fellow men for their "bozos", had a willpower to make a dent in the world with a reality distortion field, also fiercely guarding a beautiful private life, making everyone go crazy after all Apple products. He was someone who believed that being nice is changing the world and not really being courteous and whose courtesies was reserved for those whom he revered. He was a man who worked like a maniac all his life, brought intensity to the company and pranks like staring at someone without talking, eating only vegetables or fruits, fasting, walking barefoot. He was someone who had the world at his feet, and for whom excellence was as easy as breathing and for someone hypocrisy did not exist and even if it did, ordinary mortals were not blessed to read it.

Steve Jobs left a legacy and knew how to leave a legacy, in his own way.

The moment...

The man knew he was dying and commissioned Walter Issacson (a storyteller also should be the one who tells a story powerfully) to tell his life story. So, where does Steve Jobs leave us? Coming to think of the manner of his life and death, there is an obvious sense of mystery that surrounds this icon of the technology business. Hailed as the finest speech, the Stanford Commemoration Address in 2005 leaves a lasting impression after his death. His words seem almost prophetic when he said “I am not going to be there so soon.” For Steve Jobs, life was to be lived until the last moment.

Mona Simpson, his biological sister, wrote a moving eulogy that portrayed Steve Jobs in a manner unknown to us -- affectionate, tender, bound by family. He concealed that side so well from us. He was the darling of masses of technologists and the media caught his temper and argument at times for the wrong reasons. (He was said to have asked a reporter, “so you have made me look like an asshole” on Fortune magazine learning about his imminent end and writing about all his explosive behavior in 2008.)

He wasn’t perfect but still he didn’t subscribe his claim to fame by antics. He remained to the core a person of intensity, protective of his space and focused.

The melancholy...

Although death closed in on Steve Jobs, he dragged it. He turned the sad moments into aggressive preparation. His close to death experience in 2004 and his lessons thereafter are fascinating to look at. When state funerals were the order of the day and easily there could have been one for Steve Jobs, the manner of his living and his dying are examples of a life lived to its true spirit, unbound by adoration that was anywhere there in limitless ways. Swearing by minimalist life, a Zen Buddhism doctrine, Steve Jobs lived and died as a private person, making the world long for his attention and wanting to buy his products.

Death is a sad event. But the poignancy is made even melancholic if the manner is unexpected. “Even if we want to go to heaven, we don’t want to die to get there,” said he in that famous commemoration speech. “Death is a destination we all share,” but although we know we are not going to live for ever, we definitely wouldn’t want to die. God was kind on Steve Jobs to have blessed him with powers is all I could think of in coming to terms with his passing. We just have no control.

This tells us a generation of people what is important in life. Awards, public funerals, charity are just embellishments that you can get rid of. You can still live in glory without them. What matters most is the impact you make on the world.

Like on thousands, his impact has been profound on me too, a non-techie and an editor. To quote Mona Simpson, “We all — in the end — die in medias res. In the middle of a story. Of many stories.” The symphony has sadly ended. The story has drawn to a close. But I think it is a life that is to be celebrated, for all its glory.

Oh awe! Oh awe!! Oh awe!!!

–Venkatesh Krishnamoorthy, Chief Evangelist

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