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Remembering Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

Yesterday my brother commented on the awesomeness of an app for the new iPhone 4S that gives you timed (and vocal) reminders based on your GPS location. Beside me as I type is my iPod filled with more music than I ever could have imagined could fit in a few square inches…and on my shelf are Pixar films that still make me laugh/cry every time I watch them. Those who worked alongside the man behind all of these things describe his philosophy as “make it great,” and that he did, in so many ways. Shortly after that conversation with my brother, I learned we have to bid goodbye to Steve Jobs, a brilliant inventor, a savvy entrepreneur, and an amazing man…and I for one, could not say goodbye before pausing to honor “the man behind the curtain.”

The world has changed so much in a relatively short period of time. I have fond memories of childhood, including playing games on very first computer my family owned: an Apple II-E with floppy discs (that really flopped). We watched those beautiful cell-animated classic Disney films (on VHS tape) and sang and danced along to songs played on our Fisher Price record player. Our mother read us the books from the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, tales of the Ingalls family’s life as pioneers in a still-young America. Those people were tough. No excuses, no turning back, we-will-make-it-work-because-we-have-to kind of tough. My grandfather told us similar stories of his youth, having been born in the era of the Great Depression and always doing whatever it took to make things work for him, his wife, and their nine children. These people were problem-solvers, inventors…creators. If they needed a house and there wasn’t one, they got an axe and started chopping wood. It was simply what they did. It didn’t matter what their background was or what they’d been through or what they came up against. They always found a way.

That is the kind of person Steve Jobs was. He not only persevered, but he excelled. He saw beyond the line of what was currently real to what could be real, and he didn’t stop. He was born to unwed parents, dropped out of college, went through multiple jobs, and scraped to get by. Even though he was one of the co-founders of Apple (born out of his family’s garage), he was “phased out” of his own company in 1985 (returning over a decade later and bringing it back from an almost certain demise). His road to success was not an easy one. But he made it work, and work brilliantly.

Thank you, Mr. Jobs, not just for the wonderful computers, phones, and tablets, not just for the music and movies….but for the example you left for my generation. Thank you for fighting all the battles we witnessed and the numerous ones behind the scenes that we did not.

Because of you, when I am in times of fear and self-doubt, I can always pull up the image of you “tinkering” in the garage with no idea where it would lead. Because of you, I know that even talented and smart naysayers can be (rightly) ignored. Because of you, I know that invisible and impossible are not the same thing, and that when all seems lost….it simply isn’t. Right in front of us, you proved that whoever you are and whatever you may come from, you can still (literally) change the world.

Thank you for being someone who ushered me and millions of others into a new era in a spirit of innovation and excellence and not allowing that spirit to remain trapped in the centuries behind us. Thank you for being a true pioneer that I could look at in my own lifetime to be reminded that dreams are not reserved for those who speak to us from the history books. If our grandparents and great-grandparents could do it, you could do it. And if you could do it, so can I. Thank you, sir, for your tenacity, your vision…and most of all for your legacy.

You truly made it great.