innovation

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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.

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