As a child, my parents’ friends asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. “Race car driver.” As I grew older, my parents would ask the same question, with a little more concern. “Race car driver.” Through my teens, the answer remained the same. “But it’s dangerous”, they would reply. As parents, time was running out. I was about to go off to college. My Dad came up with the best lines. “When I was your age, I really wanted to be an electrical engineer. My Dad wanted me to be a doctor, but I didn’t want to be one. Now I wonder if I should have listened to him. I really think you should consider being an electrical engineer.”
February, 2001. I watched my childhood hero slam in to a wall in Daytona, Florida. His name was Dale Earnhardt and he was a race car driver. Going three wide in to the final laps of the Daytona 500, the black #3 inexplicably veered off the embankment and then shot back up in to the retaining wall at 160mph. “Race car driver.” That Fall I embarked in pursuit of my bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.
As an adult, I am known somewhat by my Apple fanaticism. My first computer was a Mac. It was an Apple IIe passed on by a family friend on which I played Chess and occasionally used the word processor. After years of tinkering with custom built PCs, I returned to the fold with a black MacBook. I got sick of the finance world I ended up in, so I took a job as a professional web developer. iMac. And I love my job so much I do it in what most would consider their “spare time”. MacBook Air.
Today, I watched my Facebook feed fill with mourning, respect, and snide remarks for a man I deeply respected. Today, the world lost one of it’s most brilliant visionaries, innovators, personalities, and… salesmen. A one in a billion type of person that died of a one in a million type of disease.
In their lifetimes, my personal heroes both held a few things in common. They both wore black. All the time. Both of their spheres of influence loved to hate them, but still respected and revered who they were. They both earned notoriety for their fearless passion (or perhaps their passionate fearlessness). And ultimately, they both died… doing what they loved.
May we all be so lucky.
Thank you, Steve. Thank you for teaching us, in your death, what it means to live. And for reminding us, in the oft quoted words of Stewart Brand, to “stay hungry” and “stay foolish”.