The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
The death of Steve Jobs should give all of us pause for many reasons. Here was a college dropout from humble beginnings who revolutionized technology to the point that he literally changed the world, building a massive fortune in the process. We work, play, listen to music, talk on the phone, and communicate in entirely different ways today than we did before Jobs worked his computer magic.
Fifty-six years is not a long life. Yet Steve Jobs achieved amazing things in that abbreviated lifespan. As a human being, it appears he was not always at his best. Despite his enormous wealth, Jobs is not known as a charitable giver. He denied paternity of his first child, born out of wedlock, and he cut his partner out of a fair share of the bonus for developing the Atari video game. But throughout the decades of his life and career, in addition to his wondrous techological inventions, he built strong relationships with his colleagues and, most especially, his family. Jobs was very public about his "iLife," but fiercely protective of his family's privacy. This, to me, is perhaps the greatest evidence of his intelligence.
Steve Jobs gave a very wise and thoughtful commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005. He knew he was playing his end game, and he was generous enough to share the wisdom he had gained about learning to die. A crowd of 20-something college graduates is a tough audience for such a profound message, but I think they will remember. They'll remember the dying genius who took precious time to speak to them, who was honest, brave, and continually productive as he counted down his days.
Steve Jobs gave those graduates a lesson more helpful than the iPhone, more memorable than iTunes, and more useful than the iPad. His message was that everyone ends up dead; what matters is what we do while we're here.