The Loss of Steve Jobs

I haven’t read every obituary or heard every remembrance, but sometimes, when words just can’t be enough, less is more. Stephen Colbert had humor on his segment on Steve Jobs tonight, but he ended it as simply and as profoundly as possible, because truly doing justice to the person of Mr. Jobs might not be possible.

The word visionary has been used almost constantly since the news last night, and it’s so fitting a word that I have to include it. A true, genuine visionary. That’s what he was. The remembrances, the stories, the articles. I felt as if Steve Jobs should have been there. Hey, wait! We’re missing Steve Jobs, he has to be here to share in something this incredible. Collective losses like this seem hard to bear, because no one really knows why certain people are taken away from us. How much did he give us? It’s almost an impossible thing to quantify because you can feel the loss as if an incredible vision of the next ten, twenty, thirty, fifty years has been taken away from us. What will we not have in the future because Steve Jobs is no longer with us? What will we not miss because the genius of his person is not around to tell us about it?

Imagine this past decade without ipods, iphones, ipads, every version of every apple product ever made, and Steve Jobs himself coming up every year to egg us on, tell us about a new product, a new lifestyle, and that’s what the future without Steve Jobs will be like. We won’t feel as if we’re missing something, because we won’t know what we’re missing.

Even more than all of that, however, is his persona. The person that he was, the person that he would have continued to be. His infectious, almost childlike excitement at his visions of what the world could look like – that’s what we will miss. His 2005 Harvard commencement speech wasn’t just a speech; it was sincere advice from someone who has lived that advice. Forever going his own way, always looking ahead, and never settling for the mediocre. I know that there are many visionaries out there, many geniuses, many people who go their own, but rarely does one come along who takes over the collective consciousness of America, of the world, in the way that Steve Jobs did. His passing is truly a loss to everyone, and it hurts. We, as a nation, as any nation, are defined by our public figures: by our politicians, our comedians, our actors and actresses, our heads of companies, our musicians. The loss of someone so much in the public sphere is sad, but only in the sense that they did define us as a people, and that we were shaped in some way, however small, by their existence.

The loss of Steve Jobs, however, is so much more. It’s the loss of a creative genius the likes of which are very, very rare. Even more than shaping our collective consciousness, he created our collective consciousness. He made us who we are, in a way that few people do no matter how great they are in any specific field.

So, thank you, Steve Jobs, and rest in peace.

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