Image via Flickr, used with permission
Steve Jobs is in a no-win situation right now. Either he’s healthy and he keeps coming to work every day and the question on everyone’s mind remains, “is Steve really healthy?” or, he’s not healthy and he takes some time to go get better, and the question on everyone’s mind remains, “how long is Steve going to live?” In either case, Apple is deprived of the singular focus of its driving force; in either case no one stops wondering about his health.
Many hope beyond hope that Jobs will regain his health and his drive and his focus, that he will return to Apple this summer, or sometime, and lead the company to many more years of innovating and producing products that “put a ding in the universe.”
Some believe his decision Wednesday to absent himself from the day-to-day operations at Apple signals the beginning of the end, that he is taking time to spend with his family and to prepare for his inevitable death coming sooner rather than later. And many wish him all the peace and comfort he can find in the love of those closest to him if such should indeed be the case.
What’s certain is there will be oceans of ink poured into writing about Steve Jobs and the unique place he has made for himself in his life and times. Whether he dies tomorrow or lives another twenty, thirty, fifty years, he has assured for himself a legacy of renown unlike anyone of his generation.
He’s been called a tyrant and a diva, a rock star and a king – and such superlatives are not out of proportion to the impact he has made on the way people live, not only in contemporary times, but on the way people will live long after he is gone.
I saw on Wednesday a piece about Jobs, written by music industry analyst Bob Lefsetz, who laments his feeling Jobs’ demise is imminent, saying his death “will be like the loss of Lennon. We will feel collectively that we’ve lost something that can’t be replaced.” And I have no doubt many will feel that way.
But the fact is, music didn’t die with the passing of John Lennon, as sad and incomprehensible as his death was, and as big and unfixable a hole as there seemed to be in his absence. His work lives on, for one thing, but also his example and his influence continue to inspire songwriters and musicians a generation later. The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus, ironically, had a prominent place just a week ago at Macworld, where Jobs’ presence was so sorely missed.
The day Steve Jobs dies may seem, as Lefsetz wrote, “like one of those great teen songs, where the lover dies and the singer just can’t move on.” But, like Lennon, his work will also live on. His example and his influence will continue to inspire people in many walks of life, I daresay, for generations to come. And that is something to be happy about.