The world lost a great visionary last week. I’m talking about Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple. One thing I’ve taken away from his life was that he was up, he was down, but he never lost sight of what was truly important to him – following his dreams. It sounds trite, but they’re words to live by.
I had the chance to read his 2005 Stanford commencement speech. Two passages really resonated with me. The first one was this one:
“You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.”
And the second passage is this:
“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.”
Even before Mr. Jobs died, I was thinking about this and how it pertained to my own life. This was the very thing I had struggled with and am still struggling with. Following dreams versus sticking to the straight and narrow. It’s cold comfort that others are struggling with this, too.
Earlier in the week, I had met up with an old friend – a friend I hadn’t seen in five years. She’s a professional editor – a very well-educated, well-spoken professional editor who is now teaching journalism at the university level and trying to figure out what she’s going to do for the rest of her life. She mentioned that she wanted to get back to her novel, which she’d shelved for a long time.
I then proceeded to launch into an (unasked for) pep talk about why she should finish it.
“Writers write,” I said, “and you are a writer.”
I think I was saying this to myself as much as I was to her. Writers write. Follow your dreams. Don’t listen to what other people say. Listen to that inner voice telling you what you need to do. What you want to do. It’s right. It’s always right. You love it. You can’t not do it. Take a day job if you need to make ends meet, but focus on the ultimate goal: the writing. Writers write, and you are a writer.
I hope she listens, if not to me, then to herself. Because I know her heart is telling her the same thing mine did: write and don’t look back.