Steve Jobs Invitation to – Freedom, or Disaster?

Steve Jobs at the WWDC 07

Steve Jobs at the WWDC 07 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I used to have many books, and I made my own bookmarks out of found objects.  I came across one of those bookmarks today while reading a bit of The Diaries of Adam and Eve by Mark Twain.  It was a quote – quite inspirational, I guess – by Steve Jobs.  I am not a techie, and I have never owned anything Steve Jobs invented, and I’ve never seen a Pixar movie.  I only know who he was because a lot of other people do.  But, this quote…it’s the kind that sound so grand when first heard, about enough to give a reader a word high, or at least a word rush.  I had to do a bit of research to see where it came from…what the context was.  It was from a commencement speech he gave at Stanford University in 2005, after his big pancreatic cancer scare, and I guess he was feeling inspired by being told he wasn’t going to die in six months.  Reading the whole of the speech, I came across this bit also:

“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 of 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.”

Well, isn’t that inspirational?  That’s what I thought when I started this.  Then, I thought how defeated it could make people feel, people who have never, or could never “…follow their heart” because of the grind that life present those of us who aren’t so wealthy.  It’s like he’s a tight-rope walker with a big net under him encouraging those who heard or read his words to step out onto a similar tight-rope, except they don’t have a net below them, or a small one at best.  But, any way…here’s the part of his speech I found written on my bookmarker –

“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.”

Now this is a little easier to handle.  There’s nothing about contemplating death when making daily or life decisions.  Most people fret over what they have to lose, don’t think of themselves naked – metaphorically or otherwise – and are way too timid to follow their “heart” or whatever they think is the seat of their emotional life.  How many of us make decisions without the echo of the dogma of their family,  friends, society, or sense of history ringing in our ears?  And how many are willing to toss away that dogma to discover what they truly want to become…to shun what is secondary?

To take this advice to heart – to truly let the inner voice decide action – is to take the ultimate gamble, seeking the ultimate reward, and how many people do you know who are willing to go all in on a game that is so heavily rigged against the player?

I’ve been criticized for not owning an automobile…for using public transportation, a true insult in some circles.

I had good input as a youth.  I spent most of my younger days with a grandfather and grandmother.  I drove the Alaska Highway many times with my grandfather, and 2,000 miles alone in the cab of his truck led to many discussions which were above my intellectual grasp at the time, but I know now they shaped my thinking as much as any other words I’ve heard.  He told me life was completely backwards…that when people are young, daring, healthy and vibrant they are consumed with raising families, working their way up some occupational ladder, satisfying the needs of others as much or more than themselves.  Then, when aged, with time on their hand, a little money – maybe, and often in ill health or psychologically beaten down by the grind, they decide to live a little.  Too late…the life lived was not a rehearsal…there is no starting over.

And what if everyone lived like today was the last day of life?  Who would keep the electricity flowing?  Who would operate the cash registers?  Who would not run their credit cards to the limit or beyond?  Who would bother writing garble like this…except for artists so greedy with their time that they would rather write than satisfy other people’s idea of what they SHOULD be dong.

Good luck, gamblers…

16 thoughts on “Steve Jobs Invitation to – Freedom, or Disaster?

  1. It’s grand to say “no more dogma” and whatnot, says the CEO of the very dogma-driven Apples computers to his underlings. I think inspirational talk like that, especially by people in power, needs to be taken with a large grain of salt. It’s like the rich saying money can’t buy you happiness. Really? Why not give me some so I can test that theory personally? Money might not buy happiness but it can get you better dental insurance and who doesn’t want to have a nice smile?

    • coyotero2112 says:

      I don’t plan much of what I write…and this was just a bookmarker that fell out…and as I wrote it I changed my take from, good advice, to stupid advice, to, give them a bone advice, and back to the tightrope walker bit. I can’t think linear any longer.

      • As we were told in school, there are no straight lines in nature. Linear is ok in scabble games but either as a poetic word it comes up short. Much better to think in cycles and tides, like the ocean

  2. shimmyshark says:

    Makes me think that even when I think I’m going off on my own path, it’s already been prepared for me to follow. Truly going your own way is the most difficult path of most resitance.
    On my Way…

  3. Inspirational to say the very least ! I am feeling so much better about my life choices now. All of what he said is very true and that is how life should be. Yet, when it comes to practical life, we do get sucked into the doctrines of the ones above us, figuratively and literally. Shedding the cloak of social norms is a task not very often done.
    Great read !

  4. B Gourley says:

    It is a dilemma. If everyone pursued their bliss, we’d never see a clean toilet again. Still and all, I prefer to be one of the ones pursuing my bliss. Just like I recognize overpopulation by humanity is a problem, mathematically speaking, and yet I’m unwilling to jump off a cliff.

    • coyotero2112 says:

      Like Twain said about loving to give good advice to others then not follow it, I choose to live as loosely as possible, and hope not too many others do the same thing…the clean toilets thing.

      • B Gourley says:

        Of course, Twain might have had the solution vis-a-vis the advice he gave to writers. He said something like, “Write for free for three years. If no one offers to pay you, then sawing wood is for you.”

  5. JC says:

    From the heart… Inspiring. Thank you.

  6. Whew! That’s a whole big set of thoughts for a normal day.

    Like you, I was lucky. In my youth, I had people who talked to me about important concepts. And I had a stepfather who had to live for the moment. He had Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy, a disease which claims most in their thirties or earlier. So instead of pondering his future, he lived in a squat in Paris with Dylan Thomas,then set up his own businesses and stood all day behind the counter in one, simply because had he sat, he would never have been able to stand up again. He packed a shed-load of living into the years he had, and made it to his 50s, which is statistically almost impossible…I say almost, because he managed it. I just wish he’d been around for the internet; there’s no doubt he would have broken it by overuse.

    Thanks, as ever, for making me think.

    • coyotero2112 says:

      So many stories from so many unexpected sources. Like to have known your stepfather…could have been a day’s worth of writing. Hanging with the original Dylan must have been a tough task. Good to hear from you. Going to check out your latest when I get through with about ten little tasks…and the wife gets on Skype to talk with relatives she never talked with when they lived down the road, but now that we live almost a continenet away…in a place where the internet is so shakey…must talk…must talk…

  7. Bizangelgirl55 says:

    Nine years ago I had a stroke while I was driving and God gave me a 2nd chance and from that day I decided to stop worrying about petty things and live life to the best of my ability and to the fullest because I know I will not have another chance and life is too short. I was only 47 years old. I love your article. It is so true what you have written. Very inspiring I hope for some of your readers. Thank you for checking my blog from time to time. It makes me smile!

    • coyotero2112 says:

      Thank you for the thoughtful reply. I read out of artistic greed, I guess. It’s good that it’s a reciprocal pleasure we get out of sharing our work…or it would be just – I don’t know. But, it’s all good. If you’re smiling, I’m happy.

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