The last 24 hours have given us a lot of insight into how Steve Jobs, armed with his singular focus and vision, has affected the lives of so many people. Personally, I can speak to how he's affected me. He created the atmosphere and, as many have pointed out, the culture, to create a new type of operating system, one that a designer recently described to me as “design sensitive”. It drew me to the platform. From there he helped me to identify the value in simplicity, that good design is so much more than how something looks, as well as doing what you believe, even if others tell you you're crazy.
Most of us — most definitely 99.9% of us — have no clue about the exact status of Steve's health. But whether he passes on tomorrow or ten years from now, he's obviously in a time of transition. And despite all he's done as the CEO of Apple, I can't help but wonder how he's feeling right now. Emotionally.
As he looks back, I assume that there is some pride about what he did for Apple as a company. What he's done for those who use personal computing devices. How's helped to make mundane tasks fun. But what about his personal life? I hope there's very little to regret, that he's been able to invest himself as much into his family as he did into his business. You and I can't know whether that's the case, but I pray it's true.
Thinking of the news last night, I couldn't help but think of King Solomon. You may or may have not heard the name before. He was the son of David, the little shepard who killed the giant Goliath (kind of like Steve/Apple have done, or are doing, to Bill/Microsoft). Solomon created the temple that was the center of worship for an entire nation, was renowned for his wisdom and ended up being the most wealthy king of Biblical times.
But as he neared the end of his days, he shared a lot of somber thoughts in the book of Ecclesiastes. Looking back on his life's work, he says this:
So I said in my heart, “As it happens to the fool, It also happens to me, And why was I then more wise?” Then I said in my heart, “This also is vanity.” For there is no more remembrance of the wise than of the fool forever, Since all that now is will be forgotten in the days to come. And how does a wise man die? As the fool!
Therefore I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was distressing to me, for all is vanity and grasping for the wind. Then I hated all my labor in which I had toiled under the sun, because I must leave it to the man who will come after me. And who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will rule over all my labor in which I toiled and in which I have shown myself wise under the sun. This also is vanity.
Please don't misunderstand my point — I don't mean to diminish the accomplishments of Steve Jobs at all. Again, I appreciate what he has done for the industry of personal computing and personally enjoy all the Apple products I own. But when we get to the end of our days, it becomes more clear that life is more than just work. It's my hope that Steve worked to live, not the other way around.
I wish him and his family all the best.