A simple midwestern kid remembers Steve Jobs
This is just a microscopic, meaningless writing. One of a million, maybe a billion simple strings of words trying to capture my feelings on the night of Steve Jobs' death. This is definitely not soaring prose that will flow from the gifted writers the world over who will tonight put their pens to paper or click the perfectly responsive keys on their shiny silver MacBooks. One certainly hopes that this is not an overwrought McLean-esque anthem bursting with shattering hyperbole and dated references to a time gone by.
Steve Jobs was not Houseman's athlete dying young. Although he left way too early, he lived a full and fulfilling life. He was not someone who would ever rightly be considered for a Nobel prize. The sum total of his works could never bring about peace on earth nor a cure to the deadly cancer that overtook him.
Yet this evening the news of his death fills all channels. The tributes pour in across the blogs. Across the tweets. Across Facebook. Probably even across MySpace, Friendster, and AOL. This is coverage commensurate with presidents, kings, and holy men and women. Yet here today we mourn a suburban California kid who built the world in the corner of his garage. Even my mother who has never used one of Steve's creations in her entire life sent me a text message tonight telling me that after reading a book about him years ago she cried because she felt he had become a part of her life and world.
Maybe it's just my overly simplistic, overly emotional self, but Steve embodied an absolute, guttural desire for perfection and exceptionalism that wells up from deep within us. His drive for insane greatness ushered into our daily lives products that took all our breaths away. Like that gut-wrenching feeling the first time you drove so crazy fast that you that you scared yourself, yet realized that not only were you in complete control but that you became one with the car. Like the first time you heard Nirvana in college. Like that unbelievable game of pool where you beat the local shark and everyone cheered. Steve's vision and drive brought to our doorsteps the exact intersection of raw passion and utter precision. What you would get if you crossed a hydrogen bomb with a laser scalpel.
He was my hero from the time I was fifteen probably the way that Michael Jordan, or Michael Jackson, or Joe Montana was to many kids my age. I watched from the smack dab middle of the Midwest as the kid with the tousled hair, the wicked grin, and the jester's bowtie made fools of the old guard with his blinking lights and a bit of fire from on high. I remember that stunned silence of the Super Bowl announcers after coming back from commercial break, as though the runner's hammer had smashed through their collective conscience. Just like it did to Big Brother's Teledisc. Just like it did to the limitations of our young American imaginations. Maybe Don McLean is actually apropos here, since Steve clearly stole the king's crown over and over and over again.
About twelve years ago I got the chance to meet him, just ever so briefly, in the hallway of a hotel in San Diego. Just walking by, he smiled bright-eyed and said 'Hi, I'm Steve" and extended his hand. Like there was anyone in that entire hotel that wouldn't know who he was! Yet here was a builder, shaker, and shatterer of worlds willing to introduce himself to essentially a nobody. And he shook my hand. Above all else, this is how I will remember Steve Jobs.