“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. 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. … Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” – Steve Jobs, 2005 Stanford Commencement Speech.

I hear he was a Buddhist.

Awareness of death and meditation on impermanence are big parts of Buddhism:

“A person wishing to ponder death need not go to a cemetery or a funeral home: death is occurring everywhere and at all times. Even the cells of our bodies are constantly being born and dying. All of us are inexorably moving toward physical death in every moment. Since every created thing is impermanent, everything we see, hear, touch, taste, love, despise, or desire is in the process of dying. There is nothing to hold onto, nothing that remains unchanged from moment to moment, and so anyone who tries to find happiness among transient created things is doomed to disappointment.” – from death and dying in Tibetan Buddhism

At the same time, nothing ever disappears. The natural world is a constant recycling process. The law of conservation of energy is at work. One of the most soothing things I ever read (or heard?) about death and dying is a comparison of human consciousness (the soul, if you will) to water: Just like water moves from liquid state (in your glass) to vapor, then rain, then back to liquid – just like water cycles to the world, so does the energy of the soul. Nothing is ever wasted. Nothing is ever gone. It’s just present in a different form.

And sometimes, what remains, is a legacy. Man, what a legacy!

portrait of Steve Jobs