You may have noticed that this blog was conspicuous in its lack of postings on the passing of Steve Jobs. It seemed everyone, even in the Catholic blog world, was intent on making the genius behind Apple into a mascot, a spiritual guru, a motivational force, a pro-life symbol.
As much as I love Apple products -- and I'm writing this on a MacBook, with an iPhone in sight and iTunes on my dashboard and an iPod in my purse -- I just couldn't force myself to jump on the Jobs bandwagon.
Then this morning I read this post by Carl Olson and finally had reason to join the posting. Commenting on the 2005 commencement address that has been the subject of countless tweets and Facebook status updates in the past week, Olson says with brutal honesty what many have ignored. Or perhaps weren't willing to see.
First here's a piece from that commencement address by Jobs:
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. 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.
Here is Olson's take on it:
This is both revealing and, dare I say, a bit stunning. Why? Because Jobs, staring death in the face, sought comfort in a flood of clichés and Hallmark card-like platitudes that are as surprisingly vapid as they are relentlessly secular (I know, that's redundant):
• "Don't lose faith" (in what? in whom?)
• "Find what you love" (like your high school career counseler always said!)
• "Love what you do! Don't settle!" (does that also apply to empty clichés?)
• "Follow your heart..." (perfect for Hallmark)
• "Live your own life" (as if I have a choice!)
• "Listen to your inner voice" (because you told me to?)
• "Follow your heart and intuition" (even if it tells me to do bad things?)
And that doesn't even get us to Jobs' concluding bit of advice (taken from The Whole Earth Catalog): "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." Presumably, it seems, until one dies, at which point hunger and foolishness cease? Many people find this amazing and inspiring; I think it is ultimately empty and quite depressing.
My thoughts exactly. I found myself listening to that speech, watching it get incredible airplay, and wondering why this Gospel According to the Secular Age was having such an impact on the spiritual blog world. I'm all for following your heart, but sometimes we have to sacrifice and sometimes we have to put other people first, even if it means we don't always like what we have to do when we wake up in the morning.
Jobs said in the same address that whenever he wasn't happy with his life for too many days in a row, he knew it was time to make a change. I've been there. Sometimes I've been able to make that change; other times I've had to stick it out until I could see my way clear to a new path, or until I reached that place where I finally realized that the difficult things we have to deal with often are precisely the things that help us become who we're meant to be.
Read Carl Olson's full post HERE.