Last Wednesday evening, my cell phone rang while I was preparing dinner. I washed my hands before swiping and double-clicking on the iPhone screen. It was my husband, John, calling to tell me Steve Jobs had died. After hanging up, I texted a friend using Apple’s VoiceOver function, and as I returned to the sizzling pan, I was surprised to find myself melancholy.
After I gradually lost my vision over the past several years due to Neuromyelitis Optica (NMO), technology became impossible. I couldn’t send nor receive text messages on my phone. I couldn’t read emails nor revise stories I’d saved on my computer. Information had disappeared into the ether of my suddenly dark world.
Then Joanna introduced me to John, and John introduced me to Apple. And then the rest is history. After Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, he steered the company around. His respect and love for functionality and industrial design made his products utilitarian, aesthetic, innovative. People ate up the iPods, Macbooks, iMacs, and iPads—nobody had ever seen anything like those Apples.
I, too, marveled at Steve Jobs and his products. But I admired them for an additional reason: they simplified information accessibility for the blind. In the ‘70s, Steve envisioned everyone using computers. He pictured personal computers in every home and strived to make this technology accessible to the layman, the blind, the deaf, the immobilized. He was a visionary, a creative genius. Thanks to Steve, I can now use my phone, computer, and technology just like everyone else.
Steve Jobs touched many lives. Since his passing, the Apple website, which is always littered with product advertisements, only displays a full-screen portrait of Jobs with the years, “1955-2011.”
Apparently, death escapes no one.
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog…It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960’s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras…
…when [the catalog] had run its course, they put out a final issue…On the back cover…was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.
It was an eerie coincidence that Steve died the day after the latest Apple announcements, but his legend lives on. The new iPhone 4S boasts Siri, the virtual assistant that lets you communicate with your phone as though you were speaking to your butler or KITT the Knight Rider car. John had been harping about this new phone feature for the past several weeks, and while I admitted it was cool, I wasn’t sold; a part of me wanted to hold out for the next round numbered model up: the iPhone 5. But then John played me this video, and then I fell in love.
John told me the last woman in the video is reading Braille and then uses the new iPhone 4S to text her friend. More power to the blind! I’m happy to say that I pre-ordered the iPhone 4S, and it should ship out tomorrow.
Apple has changed the world. Steve Jobs had changed Apple. By transitive property, Steve Jobs changed the world. Steve Jobs changed my world.
Thank you, Steve Jobs. May you live on in our innovations.
Stay hungry. Stay foolish.