There were many endings and beginnings, stops and starts in Steve Jobs’ brief but very accomplished life.
Many of those detours did not make sense to him when they were taking place.
The journey began when his birth parents decided to give him up for adoption. He moved into a family that helped nurture his young dreams. He dropped out of college and ended up in a calligraphy class whose lessons he put to good use as he was making the Mac.
After being booted out of the company he helped set up, he established Pixar. In that period, he got married.
When he returned to Apple, he did so in an awesome way and turned around the company into the billion-dollar giant it now is. He had come home in the last few years; his life had come full circle.
Many of those detours he found difficult to fathom. There were periods when, according to news reports, he made mistakes—huge ones. There were times he became reclusive, perhaps when he slipped into depression.
A lot of times he could not “connect the dots,” as he said in that famous commencement address at Stanford University where he encouraged the graduates “to stay young and to stay foolish” always.
“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something—your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
Life, they say, is 20-20 in hindsight. This we all know from experience—when relationships end, when a job we desperately needed pans out, when a dream goes unfulfilled, when our hopes are dashed. When the disappointment is happening, we wail and flail about, then we move on.
If we are blessed, sometimes, we are shown why what we had prayed for was not granted, or why the people we choose to love sometimes leave us. More often than not, if we continue to trust and believe, it is always because He has something better in store for us.
It is said that Jobs never met his biological father, but he was reunited with his biological sister, novelist Mona Simpson, whom Jobs finally met when he was 27. The heartbreaking part was how Jobs’ parents gave him up for adoption, then married each other later and had Simpson whom they raised in Wisconsin. The marriage was short-lived and Simpson took on the surname of her stepfather.
Trivia: Simpson was once married to Richard Appel, a writer for “The Simpsons,” who used his wife’s name for Homer Simpson’s mother starting with the episode, “Mother Simpson.”
Relationships apparently were a complicated terrain for Jobs. Add to this mix a love child named Lisa, whom he did not support or acknowledge until years later.
However, in the end, everything about love, relationships and pursuing dreams became very clear to the global icon.
Since he had fallen ill, his now-famous quote resonates with anyone who has lost a loved one or anyone who has stared death in the face.
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything—all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
In addition to his legacy in technology, his lessons on life and loss, and of daring to be true and different, are what will live on. Thank you, Steve Jobs for reminding us that life is precious and short and that, realizing this, we must be bold and fearless in chasing our dreams.