I Want to Put a Ding in the Universe

Published October 7, 2011 by Fat Heffalump

I have been a sad fatty for the last day and a bit.  When I first heard the news that Apple founder and former CEO Steve Jobs had passed away at 56 from the pancreatic cancer he has been suffering for some time, I was not surprised at all, as he has been seriously ill for some time and it was inevitable.  But I was struck by a deep sadness and sense of loss all the same.

Before I continue, I want to express how royally fed up I am with people who think it’s perfectly acceptable to shit on other people’s grief.  I think it’s disgusting behaviour.  Regardless of what you think of the deceased, a little respect to those grieving their loss never hurt anyone.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s only a couple of short steps away from rejoicing over that person’s death.  Everyone deserves the right to grieve for whomever they grieve for, without being shamed or ridiculed for it.  After all, isn’t that what the Westboro scum do?  Picket people’s funerals, interrupting the grievers?  I don’t care what kind of despot someone was – it is a really low thing to start shitting on people’s grief.  I think Lesley Kinzel said it best in this tweet

“Life rule: if people are sad, don’t shit on their sadness, even if you think the reason they are sad is stupid. Doing so makes you a jerk.”

So before anyone wastes my time by commenting on how much they hate the dirty millionaire capitalist who ruined the world, I want to talk about why the loss of Steve Jobs in the world means so much to me.

Many of you know my love of shiny gadgets.  Especially sleek, glossy, minimalist shiny gadgets with coloured screens and embedded cameras that you can carry all your music around on that have a white apple symbol on them.  But that’s not the reason I am mourning Steve Jobs.  Shiny Apple gadgets are pretty, but they’re not what inspires me at the core.  Oh of course I feel they connect me to the source of the inspiration sometimes, but really, they’re just the icing on the cake.

Steve Jobs was an inspiration to me because he believed that because we only have one life to live, and it’s not a very long life really, we have to spend that life being as authentic to ourselves as we possibly can.  Making the best of what we have in our lives as we can and wring as much out of them as possible.

For the first 30+  years of my life, I didn’t really do that.  Because I believed my life was worthless.  That I had nothing to give anyone, and no place in the world.  I believed that I just had to muddle through and stay out of everyone’s way, and quite often I believed that it would be best if I could just cease to be, because I had nothing to contribute to the world and nobody wanted me here.

Then things started to happen in my life, all about the same time.  I found a great doctor who treated me with respect, and started to look for ways to get me out of the deep pit of depression and rock bottom self esteem I was in.  I travelled overseas for the first time, and found so many warm, giving, fabulous people in America and Canada who just accepted me as I was and wanted to spend time with me.  I got through an icky relationship situation and removed my ex from my life.  And I heard about Fat Acceptance.

Somewhere along the way, I encountered this quote:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.  Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking.  Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.  And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.  They somehow already know what you truly want to become.  Everything else is secondary.”

And it sunk right into my brain and my heart.  There is something so simple, so clear about this quote that just sat me on my arse and made me think about what I was doing with my life.  It was a really pivotal moment for me.  I later discovered that was a quote from the commencement speech he gave at Stanford in 2005.  The piece is full of wisdom and honesty, and it told me far more about the man than all of the biographical articles I had read before.

I began to take more interest in Steve Jobs as a man, not just as the figurehead for a really cool brand.  I started to listen to the things he had to say, and think about his life and his choices and how he saw the world.  Oh I understand that along with his innovation and insight he’s had some pretty serious luck.  But could also see the hard work and the willingness to stick his neck out and try something new when others were so determined to take the safe route.  That’s what I admire about him, and that’s what inspired me to change my life, to take up the things that are important to me, to try new things and speak my mind.  To realise my value in the world, and hopefully, help other people to realise theirs.

The more I read and learned of Steve Jobs, the more inspiration I got from his words.  The more lightbulbs I got from his wisdom.

“Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful … that’s what matters to me.”

Steve also spoke of being different, which as a fat person who refuses to buy into the cultural normative of fat shame, meant a lot to me.

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

But my favourite quote ever from Steve, was the simplest one, and the one I’ve chosen to title this post with:

“I want to put a ding in the universe.”

I don’t know about you, but I want to put a ding in the universe too.  I believe that if each and every one of us thinks about what we do, how we impact the world and how we spend our lives, we can each put our own ding in the universe, and collectively shape it to a better place.  It’s my entire reason for doing everything I do  – to contribute to making this world a better place.

There is a reason that everyone is talking about the passing of Steve Jobs.  Not because he made shiny gadgets that people spend a lot of money on, but because he put a great big ding in our universe.  He believed in himself, and believed in those who stand up to make a difference, even if it breaks the rules everyone else seems to think we should stick to.  He will be missed, not because of that apple logo that became synonymous with him as a person, but because he understood that people who step out of the norm are the ones who will change the world.

He pushed this misfit, troublemaker, VERY round peg forward in her life.  And I feel the loss of his wisdom, innovation and inspiration deeply.

Vale Steve Jobs, 1955 – 2011.

15 comments on “I Want to Put a Ding in the Universe

  • I have nothing against Apple and am open to using Apple products in the future. At the same time, I can’t really call myself an Apple fan.

    That has NO bearing on my opinion of Steve Jobs as a person. I didn’t even know who he was until fairly recently and part of me feels sad that he is gone. Like it or not, he has become a cultural icon of sorts and he very much defined the way millions of people connect with each other. The loss of this person is a loss to these people and the culture.

    It also is a reminder of the passage of time and the winds of change, something Jobs was apparently acutely aware of. It’s like being 35, shopping in the mall, and hearing a song that you were obsessed with when you were in junior high in the 80s. Years down the road, we will be saying, for better or worse, “Remember that Steve Jobs guy? I can’t believe it’s been 15 years since he passed.”

    Hearing some of the things he said and did gives me the impression that despite being Teh Evil Capitalist that some people say he is, he actually could have been a nice person.

    Sorry I waxed philosophical, but you’re right. You don’t celebrate someone’s death, ever. You don’t tell people how to feel and, for a few days or even a few weeks, it wouldn’t kill you to let your personal grudges go.

    • I think a lot of people actually forget that he was a person. A 56 year old man with a family, friends, colleagues… people who loved him. All they want to rail against is that white Apple logo, and they forget that this is a man, a human being, who has just died of cancer well before his time.

  • That was such a heartfelt post. You are so right.

    Here in Canada, we recently lost a great politician, Jack Layton. He was the leader of the New Democratic Party, a national party with a distinctly left-wing bent. The NDP, though never gaining power federally (there have been NDP provincial governments) has always been considered our country’s conscience.

    If you want to get an idea of what Jack Layton stood for and his view of the world, google his name and “letter to Canadians”. It’s incredibly moving for all of us, no matter where we come from.

    When Jack died, there was a huge outpouring of grief all across the country. Even many conservatives recognized that a great man had left us. Of course, the elegies didn’t last long and the haters came out to play. Sadly, that’s apparently what’s going to happen to Steve Jobs. The vile Westboro Baptist Church has decided to picket his funeral. Of course, the ultimate irony is that the Westboro announcement was tweeted using…an i-phone. That’s why they call the teh crazies.

    And thanks for the title of this post. We should all put a ding in the universe!

  • “Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice” – this is the one sentence of his speech that struck me to the core of my being. I may only have an old Gen 5 iPod but I’ll always remember who Steve Jobs was because of that one line. Rest in peace

  • “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

    Kath when I read the above quote from Steve Jobs, it really resonated with me and I decided then and there to adopt it as my new mantra. Such a smart man.

  • I’m sorry you’re having to deal with criticism over this. I actually haven’t seen much, and I live in Seattle (home to Microsoft). The criticisms I’ve seen of Steve Jobs on Facebook/etc have been from people who worked for Apple recently (last 5-10 years) … I’m sure every inspirational person who ever lived (Walt Disney, say) had coworkers/neighbors/exes who did not view them as perfect.

  • Ah, you share many of my feelings, esepcially about the sorrow as I do feel a loss in my soul. While I am sure my capitalist leanings won’t win me fans, I will never begrudge anyone for being wealthy. I believe there are many of these wealthy people who through their abilities to create and collect vast wealth also take that responsibility seriously and give much back, and yes of course there are the others who don’t. Not sure who said this but “we do not help the poor by becoming one of them”. I see Steve as one of those who gave and made a difference – whether we agree or not about the way he did that. Like you, he inspired me and still inspires me particularly as a thought leader. By inspiring others to think is the best way I know to change the world. His thinking sure changed ours. I have used apple products almost since their inception despite not being an overly gadget orientated person. I somehow fell into graphic design in my early career and by default apple computers and thus a love affair was born. In one job a brief sojourn with the dark side (that’s what they used) had me fighting for my beloved apple equipment (ah success) and have never deviated since. For a man to have achieved so much without following the usual pathway is quite incredible and inspiring to those who might have the excuses of time, money, birth, gender etc he and others have shown us it is possible. It also to me defines success as being so much more than dollars and cents. And by default even more than what we look like or where we shop etc. The essence of a person and their contribution define a successful person.

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