As an epic, my novel, The Call, is filled with grand characters, admirable heroes and heroines. As the military leader of the best cavalry in the land Lord Edmond saved his country, then turned his back on the tributes to keep a promise. But when he channels the gift of his vision into training and breeding horses, his stud is soon recognized as the best in the land. Jerzy, a natural leader, hidden in a small village to protect Lis, is proclaimed mayor. It is like that with leadership and vision. They are innate, irrepressible, and clearly recognizable.
Unfortunately in our more ordinary age it seems there are fewer and fewer giants among us. We had them in abundance during the formation of our country and at many critical junctures. And I don’t just mean the presidents and politicians, but the pioneers, explorers, inventors, the Einsteins, the Fords, and the Edisons, the Renaissance men like Benjamin Franklin who discover electricity, create a new and effective stove design, who conquer every sphere they enter, even the court of Louis XVI! Today we lost one in Steve Jobs.
I am not the computer master my husband is. He’s a Mac nut, even had a Newton and of course started with a 2C. But even I recognize brilliance and the ability to take something complex and make it accessible. Jobs seduced me and other non-techies into trying computers. He created cool designs that grab the imagination. The older generation, as well as the young, could use what he created and enjoy it in the process. We blog and we tweet, we use ipads, iphones and apps readily because he made it easy. In many ways he changed the world by spreading simple, usable, technology throughout it. Of course that was accomplished because he identified a need we didn’t know we had, created an elegant but utilitarian product to fill it and then sold us on the concept! He was one of those giants who is being mourned not only in the tech world, but in the world of marketing, art and design.
Since 1995 Steve Jobs conducted his battle against his illness with incredible dignity, living every day in the moment and challenging us to also live each day as if it were our last. His commencement speech at Stanford is widely quoted in the ways when I was in college we quoted Thoreau on “living deliberately.” His illness taught him urgency and wisdom. Thankfully for us, his determination and his doctors bought us some well-lived years after his diagnosis.
No one should die at 56 and our world cannot readily sustain the loss of this kind of mind. Perhaps it was because Job’s brilliance burned so brightly that his body couldn’t sustain it. Certainly it is the mega-watt level of his intellect that makes it hard to believe Apple will ever be the same. The footsteps left by giants cannot be filled by mere mortals. Yet I hope that at least in heaven a new star shines and God is listening to the Heavenly Choir on his iPod. Stay hungry, stay foolish, Steve Jobs, you will live on in our memory.