Steve Job’s death really saddened me. And not just because the world has lost an extraordinary human being – gone at such a young age of 56 but because it’s yet another reminder of how short and unpredictable our lives are.
I especially love this quote by Steve Jobs:
“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. 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.”
— Steve Jobs, “How to Live Before You Die” . From the speech given at a commencement in 2005.
I first read the speech a couple of months ago as we started our journey and I couldn’t agree more at the time, but today it resonates even stronger. For the past 10 years I have felt like I was living someone else’s life. I was taught from a young age that there is a clear path – a path that you follow in life – you go to school, then you pick your career and stick with it, attend college, get promoted, get married, buy a house, settle down, have children, keep advancing in your career and growing your family. If you feel stuck – just go get another degree, education will always be useful in the future. And all the meanwhile you save for your retirement and then at 62 you are free to do what you want and travel or have a hobby – all the roads are yours for the taking. Isn’t this a great life to live?
I guess not for me. Over the last 10 years I have felt myself ‘regressing’ and one by one I realized that all of those “must” things are not on the path I wanted to follow: I don’t want the career I have, I don’t want to get married (perfectly happy with my partner of 10 years without a piece of paper), I don’t want to settle down, I don’t want to wait till I’m retired to travel the world, I don’t want to stick it out in the industry I don’t like, I don’t want to have a corporate soulless job and pretend I care about it. And this is going against everything I have been taught by my family and by society, against everything everyone else I know are doing, what I want is a complete contradiction to what my entire life should be.
But I couldn’t help asking myself – why should it be this way? Why should it be any other way than the way I want it to be. I am not living my life for others – I’m living my life for me. Why should I be trying so hard to fit into a mold that doesn’t fit me? But nevertheless I was stuck in that life for 10 years. Why? – Because of fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of failure, fear of not knowing what I want to do. After all its only ok to leave your job if you have a clear alternative, right? If you don’t have one – how can you cope with the uncertainty? What about money, how will you support yourself? But you must cast the fear aside- you cant think about ‘then what’ – otherwise you will never start, you will never do anything – all the unknowns are too terrifying.
And yes, its scary, its frustrating, its unnerving not knowing where you are going. It’s terrifying thinking that you will fail. It’s a constant stress of pondering what we are going to do once we run out of money. No matter how much we have reduced our expenses you cant reduce them to zero and eventually the money will run out. Worst of all – we don’t know exactly in what direction we are going, and any possible goals seems so far away they are almost unattainable. There are thousands of great photographers, writers and talented human beings – how can you even begin coming up with something that hasn’t been done before? How can you compete? The road ahead for us seems like a huge mountain that will take years to climb.
But for many of the esteemed and talented people, like Steve Jobs, the path was not always clear as well:
“Again, 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.”
- Steve Jobs
They have doubts, fears, and weakness just like all of us, and don’t always know where they are going. But the difference is that they trust themselves to figure it out along the way. They don’t take the easy and safe way out. And sometimes they risk everything, to be true to themselves. And I suppose that is the name of the game – nobody said it will be easy. What is easy is to live a ‘safe’ life, it is easy to tell yourself you are happy when you are not, is easy to medicate yourself with restaurants/vacations/shopping, it is easy to convince yourself you have no choice because of money/family/age or other responsibilities and excuses. And I have lived the ‘easy’ life for the past 10 years – but it came at a big price – time. Time that I will never have back, time I could have used to get somewhere I actually wanted to be, time I could have been living the life I wanted to live.
Steve Jobs’ passing and his message should stay with us and remind us that there are no guarantees – we are not guaranteed to live till 62, we are not guaranteed to retire or retire in good health. We must stop living ‘for the future’ and start living now. Stop being complacent, re-evaluate our lives and realize that the easy way out is the most costly of all. Do what you want, what you must – NOW, and don’t wait for the perfect time. There will never be a perfect time. It’s not going to be easy but it will be more rewarding in the end.
It’s been only a few weeks since we started our journey, and it has been an emotional roller coaster – from the highs of enjoying the beautiful nature, taking great photos and meeting people, to the lows of almost despair at the realization that we still have such a long road ahead, being cold, frustrated, overwhelmed and tired.
But despite all of that, there is one thing we are not – we are NOT unhappy. If someone asked me “are you doing today what you want to be doing?” my answer would be “Yes”. Because I could no longer wait, because I could no longer be in denial, because my safe life has cost me dearly. And I will never have my 20s back but I don’t want to be 40 and wishing I did something in my 30s.
The biggest lesson from Steve Jobs is don’t wait, don’t give into the fear – it will always be there, there will ALWAYS be a reason not to do something, there will always be a concern about money. But if you don’t do it and don’t do it now, you will pay the ultimate price – you will lose that time forever.
And of course Steve said it best:
“I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
Roma and Natalia are world travelers, photographers, and an all around fun couple. When they are not travelling far away continents or driving around USA in their trusted Highlander, they can be found in San Francisco, California.