Of The Anniversary on Steve Jobs Passing
I vividly remember landing in Amsterdam on October 5, 2011 after being in the air for almost 10 hours. I turned on my iPhone and AP news alerts started pinging my phone as happens when a “world event” takes place (this was before you could get Internet access on planes). I read through the Fox News, CNN, Sky News alerts and articles, and read through my Twitter and Facebook feeds as we pulled into the gate. I had already received the text below from my wife (yes I have every text message ever sent or received). A text message, received in my hand sitting on a runway in the Netherlands, thousands of miles away from Auburn, Alabama.
As we pulled up to the gate I took the photo above of the Delta flight parked next to our gate, pulled it into my Camera+ app, put a boarder around it and posted it to Instagram, all in less than 5 minutes while I was waiting to deplane. At this point I had already checked my email, responded to a few emails, and looked up our connecting flight information. All from a small piece of metal, glass, and plastic that didn’t even exist a few years earlier.
This might sound like a lot of poetic musings for a phone, but for some reason my mind wasn’t ready for this particular piece of news on this morning, and it confused me. I was on my way to Africa. Amsterdam was just a stopover, and the only reason I was going to have any personal connection with my wife halfway around the world was because Steve Jobs had decided he and his company were going to invent and create something that had never been done before. Something that I was now holding in my hand.
Here was a man who shared no convictions with my faith, no connection to me whatsoever. In all accounts, a brilliant man who had no understanding beyond a pluralistic view of my faith mixed with his version of Buddhism and other things, and yet thousands of miles from home he had an impact on my life just the same.
“The juice goes out of Christianity when it becomes too based on faith rather than on living like Jesus or seeing the world as Jesus saw it,” he told me. “I think different religions are different doors to the same house. Sometimes I think the house exists, and sometimes I don’t.” ~Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
Yet I still felt some personal connection with Jobs, even if it was just a minor one, sitting on a runway in Europe. As if the plane full of people melted away leaving me and my connection with Jobs sitting in my hand. He shared none of my understandings of the world, or my way of life, or me his, yet he changed the world, my world, and still does on a daily basis.
After I got home from Africa I read, back to back, the biography on Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson and the biography on Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas. What an amazing contrast of times and cultures, beliefs and worldview, and yet both had the ability to change the world for the better. Ultimately in death, as we all will do some day, we will either look to what lies ahead and beyond, one perhaps cling to life here on earth, just as these two great men did, but what impact will we leave on those around us?
I boarded the plane to Africa, still thinking about Jobs’ fate and wrote this as we took off in one of my journals.
The biggest surprise to me so far [on this trip], was upon landing, finding out that Steve Jobs died. I was truly saddened to hear this. I know we are all temporary in this world, but this man, who for all accounts wasn’t a believer, and yet still changed the world. He forever changed the way the world communicates, how we are connected with each other, and he is the reason I can talk to Deborah from this plane in Europe while she is in Auburn.
He affected so many people through his innovations. How are we to greave his death? I’m saddened over his death as if he was someone I knew personally, and at the same time I really don’t know why either. Death seems so imminent for all of us, especially when you hear about Jobs dying at 59. I didn’t even know Jobs, but I will miss him. The new iPhone announcement yesterday had people wanting to see Jobs at the event, people he never knew, what a life. I pray for his soul this day.
I’m not even really sure why I wrote this today other than to acknowledge the gravity this one person had on our world. A person I have vast differences with in life, on almost every aspect of life, yet he was someone who had a positive impact on so many people, on me.
Jobs once said “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” which really became his whole life philosophy, and was carried on today by Tim Cook and Apple with the video on their front page and the letter below. What other for-profit company would take down their entire front page just to show a 2 minute tribute video. Simplicity and sophistication.
As I gain more experience and wisdom (in age) I can see many things that Jobs contributed to our world well beyond his reach. It has been said that almost any pop music today has strands of Michael Jackson weaved throughout the notes, such was Jobs’ influence over our world. I see evidence of these threads Jobs left, throughout the world, that have changed our society forever. I have learned a great deal from Jobs and today often see myself weaving in these threads of simplicity, a drive to be concise and compelling in the communications work I accomplish each day. His reach is amazing. There’s really no wonder why Apple pays tribute.
It doesn’t matter who you are, what life you live, what background you come from, if you live in Africa, the United States, or Europe, we can all have a positive impact on each other, so don’t give up on what you care about, often you may never know who’s life you have changed in the process.
(This article was originally published on my blog on October 15th, 2015.)