Death Through the Eyes of a Visionary

Steve Jobs, the inspiration behind the Apple empire, a man with amazing vision about what was possible within technology, a man who changed how we act several times a day, has passed. Though his illness was widely publicized, many of us are in shock at the final event.

It is interesting to me that he had written about death. It contains some wisdom that comes from a lack of regret. Here it is…

“No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. 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.” – Steve Jobs

His spin on death is uncommon, honest and ultimately hopeful. It rings more true than most eulogies and that in itself makes it easy to swallow the entire statement as true.  He calls death (with a capital d) the single best invention in Life. He implies that his passing, like everyone’s passing, is a good thing because it clears out the old to make way for the new. All the while, his family, associates and friends would prefer Steve’s kind of changing the world over his death.

Let’s remember this important perspective- Steve Jobs was an expert at technology and following his dream. He was not trapped by dogma. He didn’t let his own inner voice be drowned out by others’ opinions. But he never was an expert at death and certainly, not an expert in my or your death. He was not an expert at knowing what others are feeling about his passing. He dismisses our feelings as standing in the way of progress.  Are we standing in the way of progress to be excited about what course he had set us on?

In spite of Steve’s visionary statement about death, let us take his encouragement to pursue our dreams. My dream is to stop death. To end the useless loss of wisdom, experience and vital connections that make communities thrive. I hear Steve trying to make excuses for death: it’s the way for change to happen. But I also hear him, after his passing, still trying to make a difference in the future. He says,  “Follow your dreams no matter what they cost.”

No, Steve didn’t really want to die and he didn’t want to have to find an excuse for it. He was no expert on death. Let’s be honest about that and change the future by changing death.

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