Why Steve Jobs Is My Constant Companion
If you haven’t read the book yet, be warned: it may change your life
You think you get 80 years. Steve Jobs’ death knocked the wind out of that one, and snapped back into focus for me that we have one day (this day) to live our fullest lives. Jobs had barely been on my radar–I had never owned an Apple product, and I’d walked into an Apple store exactly once at that point, while on vacation, simply to check my email (I didn’t even text yet). Yet, I saw that face looking up at me at the last of the big-box book stores. And for some reason, he spoke to me (smart marketing decision, that face). I requested the book from my husband as a holiday gift the year it came out (two years ago), and I received it.
Thus began my life transformation. First, let’s start by saying that I read books rather slowly, not because I’m a conscientious, deliberate reader but because by the time night comes, the opening of the book and the almost-immediate closing of the eyes have become a Pavlovian response. It is common for me to dog-ear the same page day after day after day. So picking up this 600-page behemoth elicited snickers from my family.
Yet Steve quickly became my constant companion. He rode with me in the car and stood in line with me at the post office. He walked with me to the supermarket and I read while I strolled (carefully). He even kept me company during that annual three-hour mammogram/ultrasound appointment where I mostly shuffle from waiting room to waiting room in a blue gown, hoping to dodge the family-history bullet for another year. Two other women brought him as well, and thus began what became a common occurrence over this timeframe for me–the recognition of a secret society of people completely addicted to this book. We smiled at each other, we talked briefly, and we collectively dove back in, almost sorry when our names were called.
I heard some recurring comments while I was reading the book all over town. ”I can’t put it down.” ”Can you believe this story?” “Every single page is a page turner.” ”Don’t you just love it?” And even, “Time to go to bed with Steve” from a friend who sent me a photo of the book sitting on her pillow, with its jacket off. She and I had discovered we were both reading it as we dug in a food pantry garden together, and out of the blue she whispered, “Have you read the Steve Jobs book yet?” Trowels got the towel, and it was all about Steve from that moment on.
So, the book. Let me tell you briefly about the book. First of all, the story is completely fascinating, how Steve was adopted, what happened at college, the whole apple farm thing, the drugs, the friends he made, the famous tinkering in the garage, and the building, demise, and rebuilding of an empire. Oh, wait, not just one empire, but two. You do know about Pixar, too, don’t you?
The guy was completely socially inappropriate. If you’re anything like me, you’ll talk about the fruit diet thing and the way he smelled for days. The guy was nasty, as in extremely nasty (my personal conclusion is that you can be a genius and change the world while still being nice, and I’m holding onto that). The guy simply made up his own rules (um, yeah, you really do need to get a license plate when you drive a car) and he truly believed that he could bend reality, not just view it in his own way but actually bend it, change it.
Goodness, let me not go too far without giving Walter Isaacson, the author of Steve Jobs, the major shout-out he deserves. Although mostly chronological, this book suddenly isn’t. Although mostly told from an observer’s position, this book suddenly welcomes Isaacson dipping in and out in the first-person. Although presenting a whole lot of technology details, Isaacson never once caused me to glaze over or skim–not once, in 600 pages. In fact, by the time I finished reading this book, I found myself wondering about Albert Einstein, Ben Franklin, and Henry Kissinger (all biographies Isaacson has written). Hint: If you’re a high school teacher, get this man’s books into your students’ hands immediately. They will fall in love with the power of storytelling and the relevance of history. (Update: Since then, I’ve read the Einstein one, and loved it, too.)
And now, back to Steve. Yes, now his story is history. But I suspect there is not one person who puts down that book who won’t be changed, and who won’t somehow carry forward the best of the man. For me, I saw his impact. I quit some things. I pursued some others. I lost a little patience. I spoke out a bit more. I got in some trouble. I lived a little louder. I celebrated my passion and reconsidered some weaknesses as possibly strengths. I dreamed a bigger dream. I stretched. And that was only after the first month.
I would be so bold to say that Steve Jobs, by Water Isaacson, is the best book I’ve read in my life, and having read it when I did, at that precise crossroads on my personal and professional journey, will prove to change its entire outcome, in ways I can still only imagine. The important thing? I’m imagining more. In that way, Steve continues to be my constant companion.