The death of Steve Jobs has touched many people—few connected Americans are not touched in some way by the passing of this legendary technological genius. Despite the effect he has had on many lives, I can’t help but think that the people who will miss him most are his surviving family members—his four children, his wife, his biological parents, and his two sisters. It is these people who will live with fond memories, yes, but also regrets, pain, what-ifs, and if-onlies.
When we hear of someone dying, whether someone famous such as Steve Jobs, or someone less well-known, but often far more personal, we begin to think a little more deeply than many of us may be comfortable thinking. We contemplate the rapidity of life and the inevitability of death. We rest assured in our faith or, for many, re-evaluate the wisdom of rejecting God. On a more immediate basis, we evaluate our own lives and relationships a bit more.
We assess how we spend our time. We look at the hours wasted online, watching television, complaining, or working overtime. We contemplate whether hobbies and careers have attained a higher status than the people in our lives. We recall with regret the number of “laters” and “not nows” that have escaped from our mouths. We look shamefully on the number of hours we spent dealing with clutter, full calendars, and self-imposed expectations that distract us from the people we are blessed to have in our lives.
With such regret and reawakening driving us, we often tend to refocus our lives, promising ourselves we will spend more time with our loved ones. We commit to making time for what really matters, for saying “yes” instead of “later,” and for saying “no” to anything that will keep us from our families. This lasts only briefly before life crowds in on us again and we are once more taking each other for granted and confusing our priorities. If excessive stuff, activities, and expectations are not permanently eliminated, there will be no space for those who really matter…but there will always be room for regret.
Nobody is immune to death. Similarly, nobody is immune to the regret that often comes with knowing you could have given more time, been more committed, or been more attentive to your loved one.
One of the most important reasons for simplifying your life is to make more time for the people with whom you have been blessed. Make an effort today and every day to remove the unnecessary elements from your life—perfectionism, clutter, obligations, expectations.
Focus on faith and family. There will come a time when nothing else matters.
For a powerful and moving perspective on Steve Jobs’ death, please read “The Death of Steve Jobs: The Real Story.” It is the single best article I have read on the subject.