Steve Jobs, on life

Upon waking this morning, I opened up my iPad. The familiar ding sounded and a push notification from MacWorld popped up on my homepage with the nightmarish news that Steve Jobs had died.

The brilliant, creative genius of Apple products that kept blowing us all away was gone. He was only 56.

Tribute to Steve Jobs on the Apple homepage

Many will remember him for the genius that he was. Colleagues who worked with him probably remember him either at his best or at his worst. Most of us know him by the everyday devices we bring around with us that have become part of our identities.

But what struck me today, listening to the CNN coverage on Steve Jobs, was how he pursued his own version of a meaningful life with such a driven, focused passion.

Steve’s life has been very colorful. But his close encounter with pancreatic cancer in 2004 made him realize how life was too short. This mindset shift was clearly reflected in part of his speech at the 2005 Stanford commencement speech:

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.

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…

Such profound words from a man who had a love-hate relationship with so many people who knew him! This must have been why he seemed so driven despite his illness. He wanted to go with a bang. And he has. He has left us with a legacy and many life lessons.

To me, what left a huge impression was Steve’s thoughts on death as a life-changing agent. It truly is. When we realize life is short, then we stop being a sham, a fake if you can call it that. We stop living someone else’s life. We begin focusing on who we really are, what we want to really do, where our passions lie, what counts in life, WHO count in our life. We realize that walls that we erect to ‘protect’ ourselves from hurt are actually walls that shut out people who love us. We begin to see people and things around us that, in many busy seasons of life, usually go by unnoticed. We learn detachment and see material things from a functional point of view rather than from an obsessed, never-ending acquisition binge.

To get a better sense of Steve’s mindset, watch this video of that 2005 Stanford commencement speech:

Thank you, Steve Jobs, for how you changed our lives in a dramatic way. How the world will communicate and connect will never be the same again. You will be truly missed.

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Apple in my life

The very first time I laid my eyes on an Apple product was in the 80s. Back then I was a graduate student in the U.S. working on my Masters degree. One of the Filipinos in my batch purchased an Apple IIe. He had it in his dorm room and I remember several of us going to his room to ogle and salivate. At that time, very few people could afford an Apple computer so it was quite the novelty amidst the Ataris and Radio Shacks others had.

(courtesy of http://www.allaboutapple.com/)

My next encounter with an Apple was at work. Most of the computers in the office were Windows-based ones but when it came to desktop publishing, nothing could beat what the Macintosh could do. Fortunately, I was one of those who had projects that required me to work on the Macintosh using Adobe PageMaker. It was thrilling then to see how the icon-based user interface differed from the command prompts we had to type in on Windows PCs. It was really so much easier (and fun) to use.

 

(courtesy of http://www.allaboutapple.com/)

However, there was a long hiatus as I went the way of Windows PCs and laptops when I moved to a bank which was predominantly on Windows. Both at home and at work, I became so rooted in Windows that when my girl received the first Macbook in the family as a graduation gift, I always wondered why she raved about its performance. The second Apple convert was my oldest son who began using an iMac at home. Then on one business trip, my husband came home with our first iPod  – his gift for the kids. That was followed by another iPod, won by my son unexpectedly in a consumer product raffle.

Then, it was time for me to get a laptop when I needed to be mobile. It was a personal struggle – to go with a Windows laptop or move to the Macbook. One agonizing year – yes, believe it or not, it took me that long to weigh how I’d use it, how I’d adapt to new features and commands, and whether it was worth the price. I made the move in late 2008 and got myself the unibody Macbook. At almost the same time, I got an iPod Touch. One was for heavy, serious work. The other was for portability and communication when I needed to be mobile. It was a decision I have never regretted.

The genius of Steve Jobs has shown in each and every Apple device that has been made. I’ve read a book about him and it told of how he could be very hard on his colleagues, very demanding, unsympathetic and a lot more descriptions that are not really flattering. But in the end, his devices really spoke to the hearts of everyone, young and old. He knew what we wanted before we even knew what we wanted.

Someone once told me that when you’ve tried an Apple device, it would be hard to go back to Windows. I was a bit skeptical about that statement but right now if you ask me if I’d give up my Macbook and iPad and revert back to Windows and a non-iOS device, my answer would be a big NO.

The last bastion standing now is my cellphone. Because I love qwerty keyboards, I have not switched as yet to an iPhone. I am still on a Nokia E71, loving its tactile feel and being able to type texts rapidly without the typos I get on a touchscreen device. But there are many things I cannot do seamlessly with it. I cannot livestream properly. I cannot take a picture (because its camera is really lousy) and upload photos on the fly to my social media networks. But friends with iPhones can.

Maybe this is the time to go full circle and complete my lineup of Apple devices by getting the iPhone 4S. That is a decision I am still weighing at the moment.

Our home is filled with Apple devices, just like many homes are. Without a doubt, Steve Jobs and his Apple devices have changed the way I communicate, work, play and get my news. I really hope that the spirit of Steve will live on for a long time. The world has so much to be grateful for to this one man who went against convention and what people may call common sense (at that time) to make portable devices with powerful communication features and massive consumer appeal.

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