Let’s go make some great things.
This isn’t about Steve Jobs, except that it is. It’s not about technological advances or sleek design or Toy Story 3, because things like that would have been created eventually, by someone, if not in their current form then at least in a form we’d recognize.
This is about us.
Within minutes of the news of Steve Jobs’ death, Twitter exploded in an outpouring of solidarity. Sports sites posted the story. The President made comments. We all cared in a way that we never thought we would, and a mixture of respect and inevitability pushed any glimmer of snark from the room.
People began tweeting a corporate logo. Speaking large about passion and creativity and death. Making grand claims. Reminiscing. All for a billionaire businessman who none of them had met. During a time when we bemoan the rich and claim our place in the nation’s 99%, we stopped to salute a man who was richer than most and who until recently had helmed the most valuable company in the nation.
Except this time, it felt different.
Because this isn’t about Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs himself wasn’t even about Steve Jobs; after Apple’s phoenix-like rise, Steve Jobs shifted from a normal human to a symbol of impossibility-made-possible.
This IS about passion. This IS about creativity. This IS about death. This is about recognizing innovation, seeing it at work, hoping that the impossible will continue being so damned possible. This is about the aura of creation and the lives we now lead in a shrinking world; barriers broken not through force but through the optimism of modern technology – that bravado that says, “Sure, why the hell not, of COURSE that can be done.”
Today, a man died. We are sad about that and for his family, of course, and we should be. His company has been built to continue on, and the things he’s created will continue to work, and we will spend a week or so wondering how things will change before understanding that nothing’s going to change. We’re all going to continue moving forward. We’re all going to see things we never thought possible and we’re going to marvel at them. Most of all, we’re never going to stop wondering what else can be done. Just as he taught us. Just as the space program taught us. Just as our childhood counselors taught us.
Want a legacy? There it is.
What did people say when Thomas Edison died? Or Marconi? Benjamin Franklin? Eli Whitney? What do you say when someone who you never met, but whose work you touch every single day, stops being a part of our world?
You can say thank you, I guess.
Or, you can strive to make things better. Because this death, and this outpouring, and this sudden swell in solidarity, is not about Steve Jobs. It’s about seeing someone we admire suddenly go away and understanding how short life can be, and how much can be done. You may not like his products, or his attitude, or his politics, but you can’t bemoan the guy’s drive to improve, his inability to waffle and his undying quest to make things perfect in a world that’s long since given up on perfect.
It was never about the products. It was always about the ability to package passion and drive and beauty in a way that exceeded the technology within. It was a conquering of spirit that went beyond a device. The things are just things. It’s the will to improve and stay relevant that shaped our love for Steve.
All that being said, there’s still one thing will never be conquered: time. Even through decades of remission and treatment and healthy living, time was always there.
Steve knew it. And now, we know it as well.
So let’s go make some great things. And use that time while we have it.