"Death is very likely the single best invention of life. It is life's change agent." These are the words of Steve Jobs given at the commencement address to the graduates of Stamford University in 2005.
Since so many people are remembering Steve Jobs for how he changed so much in our world, I wanted to highlight another part of Steve Jobs about which many may not be aware. Here are some of his reflections from that commencement address, delivered after he had been told he had cancer but almost six years before it would actually take his life.
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 or 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. This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope it's the closest I get for a few more decades...
Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:
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. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true...
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.
In all my years of being a chaplain, no one, either sick or dying, ever said to me that he or she wished they had worked more. Most say that they wish that they had taken more time to be with their family, or their friends or other loved ones. I believe that Steve Jobs also felt that way. He said that what he was most proud of was his family even though he did not get to spend as much time with them as he would have liked. And he decided to have his biography done so that his children would understand why he wasn't always there for them.
How about you? When you are nearing the end of your life, what would you hope that you would not regret not doing? Perhaps Steve Jobs can influence our lives more than technologically. Perhaps instead of waiting in line all night for the next "i" thing to be released, you will consider spending that time with those you love instead. That too, can be a legacy of Steve Jobs.