John Gruber on Steve:

Those grass stains [on his shoes] filled my mind with questions. How did he get them? When? They looked fresh, two, three days old, at the most. Apple keynote preparation is notoriously and unsurprisingly intense. But not so intense, those stains suggested, as to consume the entirety of Jobs’s days. There is no grass in Moscone West.

Surely, my mind raced, surely he has more than one pair of those shoes. He could afford to buy the factory that made them. Why wear this grass-stained pair for the keynote, a rare and immeasurably high-profile public appearance? My guess: he didn’t notice, didn’t care. One of Jobs’s many gifts was that he knew what to give a shit about. He knew how to focus and prioritize his time and attention. Grass stains on his sneakers didn’t make the cut.

Late last night, long hours after the news broke that he was gone, my thoughts returned to those grass stains on his shoes back in June. I realize only now why they caught my eye. Those grass stained sneakers were the product of limited time, well spent. And so the story I’ve told myself is this:

I like to think that in the run-up to his final keynote, Steve made time for a long, peaceful walk. Somewhere beautiful, where there are no footpaths and the grass grows thick. Hand-in-hand with his wife and family, the sun warm on their backs, smiles on their faces, love in their hearts, at peace with their fate.

I enjoy these kind of anecdotes — ones that give a glimpse at the philosophy behind the man. The philosophy made him; the products he invented did not shape his philosophy. You can read articles about what he effected and feel like a loser. Or you can read about his philosophy and emulate it because we know it’s made a hell of a person. Along the way if you get a chance to change the world, sure, take it.

Going after fame or greatness on the other hand is silly — to me atleast. Either way, you will die and everyone will forget all about you. What differs is how long it takes for everyone to forget you.

A neighbor’s dog you weren’t close to: It takes you a second to forget it.

A distant acquaintance: Half a day.

A close friend: A month.

A family member: A few months.

Gandhi: 63 and counting (my guess is 100 years).

Jesus: 1981 years and counting (my guess is 2500 years).

Lord Vishnu: A million years. (Just kidding. He didn’t exist.)

It comes down to how long you want to be remembered and by how many people i.e. where on the above scale you want to fall when you die. Once you decide that number, contrast it with the age of the universe: 14,000,000,000 years.

Therefore going after greatness is silly. Emulating a good philosophy on the other hand — if you don’t already have something good enough — is more useful because atleast you have a good time while you’re here.

***

I am quite the person to pump someone up.

Advertisements