The world is a little smaller this morning after the loss of one of its great visionaries, Apple founder Steve Jobs. A friend to many, Jobs was an artist, an innovator, and a powerful force for change. We experience the world and everything in it differently because of the work he did. And Jobs had a profound view of work, that if we aren’t using our inspiration we are wasting our time.
He was a man who rarely spoke of himself. He didn’t spend a lot of time spreading his personal vision for living to those of us who consumed (like ravage animals!) the products and innovations he spent his life developing. But in his Stanford commencement address in 2005, he verbalized one of the most significant and often missed opportunities for understanding what it is we’re doing here on the planet.
Jobs said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.”
For those of us who come to recovery, there are many dots. Recovery is yet another dot along our path. Once sober, we often spend wasted time fretting over the past or consumed with fear of the future. Instead of viewing our paths as integral structural components of our futures, we get twisted up over why this particular path had to be ours.
My personal path has at times been profoundly sad and full of loss. Yet the life I live today spills over with gratitude and accomplishment…and at 11 years sober and counting, I usually feel optimistic that it’s just getting started. And I know, each time I look at my children, my husband, our relationship, the women in the program I sponsor and the ones who have sponsored me, that none of it could be exactly as it is today if any one thing had been different. So it’s hard to justify spending too long in regret, depression or apathy.
The challenge for us is to accept the milestones (or the dots!) in our life, and move on. So though he wasn’t Buddhist, Jobs expressed a very Buddhist sentiment in his philosophy about connecting the dots. That we need to stay present, stay in the present moment. Find inspiration there and build from that inspiration. These are the qualities that define leaders, artists, innovators, and that allow success to come as a result of intense energy, hard work, and willingness to grow.
I am deeply sad for the world at large to have lost such a profound figure of innovation and change. It feels to many as if Steve Jobs had just begun. Today I will practice remembering to trust my gut, my life, my destiny, my karma, and to stay in action, because action is the place in which the universe, God, a higher power, can work in my life.