I kept walking, maybe ten feet, and I turned around once more. I looked Steve Jobs in the eye and said, with pure and unadulterated sincerity, “Thank you.”

losing (and gaining) a hero

The keynote auditorium was dark, barely lit, and empty. No guards at the door, nobody milling about inside. I’d walked right in (to this day I don’t remember how I got into Javitz Center so early, but the doors were unlocked and nobody was around to guard them), picked out a seat directly behind the VIP rows, and sat in the dimness reading the Macworld Expo brochure, deciding what to do that day.

I wasn’t paying attention, so when somebody tapped me on the shoulder from behind, I jumped. And when I looked up, there he was. He smiled, kindly, introduced himself, asked me my name, and asked me, as if he was actually giving me the choice, “Would you mind stepping out for a while? We need to run through the keynote before people start arriving.”

I didn’t know what to say. I nodded, collected my bag and belongings, and stood up. “Sure,” I told him, and started to walk back down the dark aisle toward the exit.

“Please don’t tell anyone about this,” he said, again smiling broadly, “or we’ll have people trying to sneak in early all the time.”

I kept walking, maybe ten feet, and I turned around once more. I looked Steve Jobs in the eye and said, with pure and unadulterated sincerity, “Thank you.”


Yesterday, I lost one of my heroes.

When I was young – I had a hard time figuring out who my heroes were. I wouldn’t let them off for being human. My heroes needed to live superhuman lives and show off no faults. I wouldn’t let them be alcoholics, or drug users or criminals, even if the crazy life they led helped them create with such amazing honesty.

And until yesterday, had someone asked me, “Who are your heroes?”, well – I still would’ve fumbled looking for an answer. But as I learned of Steve Job’s death via Twitter – I didn’t believe the news at first – as my timeline and most of my immediate world filled with memories and gratitude for him, it crystallized for me. My heroes are those whose actions inspire me not to become like them, but to become even more awesomely myself – whose life encourages me to dig deeper for what I can offer, what I can give, what I can do, and not out of ego or pride, but out of pure expression of this being I call me.

Steve Jobs – encouraging us to Think Different, speaking to the crazy ones among us, and yes, I’ve always felt like I see the world a little askew, told me it was not only okay to be a little crazy, to think we could change world, but he also told me – and he showed me – that it’s possible.

Undoubtedly Apple is a confederation of geniuses, of dreamers and of people who don’t settle for anything less than profound, but it is a place created, formed, shaped by his vision, and he brought together the best he could find to make technology beautiful and human. To make people the most important technology.

So many of my potential heroes, too, were artists, and so I gave them the rough treatment. It wasn’t enough for me for an artist to create powerful art; their life needed to be art as well, and without blemish.

But none of us is perfect. None of us is without blemish. There will be people who talk about dark sides of any hero, Steve Jobs included. So now I’ve redefined what an artist is – to me: An artist imagines, and is driven by that imagination to create no matter what the world says, and an artist’s creation inspires our imagination.

Yesterday, the world lost a profound artist, someone who touched almost every aspect of modern life for a vast portion of the world, and I lost a hero. But I also gained one.

Goodbye, Steve. Thank you so, so much.

I’d seen him in person once more (outside of keynotes and random glimpses of him milling about the show floor) at a Macworld. He’d arrived at the front entrance with a small entourage in tow, without his badge. The security guard stopped him and told him nobody would be admitted without a show badge.

We who congregated around the scene could tell he was upset about it, but he quietly told the guard his name, and that he was the CEO of Apple. The guard had none of it and stood firm. Steve – in his black turtleneck and blue jeans, asked a few members of his entourage to vouch for him, but the security guard just radioed his supervisor.

And in a few minutes, out walked a supervisor, who again repeated the policy. Steve – already standing up straight and tall, looked the supervisor in the eye and spoke – clearly enough for the gathered crowd to hear:

“Do you know who I am? I’m Steven Fucking Jobs!”

And with that, Steven Fucking Jobs walked past the guards and into Javitz Center just like he owned the place.

in memoriam

Steve Jobs, artist, hero


Mila (Jacob Stetser)

Mila is a writer, photographer, poet & technologist.

He shares here his thoughts on Buddhism, living compassionately, social media, building community,
& anything else that interests him.

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