Friday, October 7, 2011

In Honor of Steve Jobs (1955-2011) Six Things I'm Going to do Today.

Maybe people have been following the life of Steve Jobs much more carefully than I have. I knew that he'd revolutionized the tech world and therefore each of our small little individual worlds. I knew he was critically ill and had been for a long time.

I didn't know the backstory of his getting fired from Apple -- which he'd co-founded and the details of that reconnection. I didn't know he'd been adopted at birth but that his father and mother later married and gave birth to his biological sister, novelist Mona Simpson. I hadn't watched this graduation speech, which all of my kids now have to watch. (I assign things like this.)

There are so many things embedded in this speech -- the most beautiful moment is when his voice cracks talking about what "get your affairs in order" is code for, one of which is telling your kids all of the things you thought you'd have decades to tell them. The main thing I've already told my kids about Jobs is that he believes you should do what you love. It's something I preach in this house. I love what he has to say about instincts and intuition -- that you should follow them because, deep down, they already know ... And that you can't connect the dots looking forward, only looking backward. And I agree: You have to believe in something.

And most of all I love his parting advice -- stay foolish, stay hungry.

So here are six things I'm going to do in honor of Jobs today:

1. Use the fear of death to strip away what's not important and think about what is.

2. Look back at my life, think of the dots that I can connect and think of a change I want to make -- something I won't be able to gauge, except in retrospect -- 10-20 years from now.

3. Think about belief. For me, that's bound with faith. I'm going to lean on that faith -- not as a crutch but more like bearing down on a springboard.

4. Be foolish. Writers risk foolishness all the time -- but especially when we're do something bold. We fear being naked. In Jobs' speech, he says, "We're already naked." Today, I'll write something boldly foolish.

5. Think not about what makes me hungry, but first what in my life keeps me padded, protected. Then I'll think about my hunger. (My guess is that I'll find it within my own personal relationship with the imagination as well as fear. Always fear.)

6. Think of three things I want to tell my kids -- things I think I've got decades to tell them. And I'm going to tell them those three things -- today.

Feel free to join me. No need to RSVP.