Stay Hungry, Stay foolish*

Steve Jobs is gone. That’s the talk of the town. It gave me an occasion to talk to my son about how before him, when I was his age, people didn’t have computers in their house. And I showed him what the first Macintosh looked like. I remember these days, of course, the days when people who had a Mac were teased because most people had what was knows as an IBM, or an IBM-compatible computer, now a Windows machine. When Zak had to buy his first Apple laptop for school, we were more than skeptical. But we haven’t bought anything else since. Because once you try it you understand why so many people are addicted to that brand. The simplicity, the ease of use, the design, etc. They are well-made machine, for the same reasons that make an iPod so much more than whatever other mp3 players are out there, the very reason we call them all iPods.

Was Steve Jobs perfect? Of course not! My knowledge of him is pretty limited, but I believe he was ruthless with competitors and he did some pretty nasty things. He also never did anything philanthropic, unlike Bill Gates for instance. But then, who knows, maybe he gave tons of money anonymously. I guess my point is, he wasn’t a perfect human being. And I’m sorry to ruin your American dream, but I don’t think we can all become Steve Jobs if we work hard enough: he was a genius, unlike most of us. But he did have some pretty great messages.

I remember once when I was worried about my future as a history major, thinking there was no work in my field, my dad said to me: “There’s always work for the best”. That stuck with me, one of the rare words of wisdom my dad imparted on me. He was right. When you’re the best at what you do, no matter what it is, you always find a way to make it work, to make a living out of it. As long as you have this other ingredient: a profound love for what you’re doing. I guess I’m lucky because I found something that I love and that pays me pretty good. But I always had very little patience for people who keep whining about their work. I always think: life is so short, if you hate your work that much, quit! Do something else! Find a solution! Pursue happiness, because it won’t just jump on your lap. You have to look for it.

So that’s what I will remember of Steve Jobs. He was extremely smart, sure, but he also loved what he did. He put everything into it. He gambled. And he could have failed. But he didn’t. And you know what, I would rather see my children fail (and then hopefully recover) while doing something they love than find a boring success at something they hate. Because if I died tomorrow, I would be glad I spent 9 years as a happy translator rather than as something more prestigious that I would have hated.

*The title is a quote from Steve Jobs.

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