"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 , CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios.
Hindsight is a precious thing and is perhaps a thin (almost transparent) silver lining to the otherwise very black cloud that is - being told that you have an incurable illness. Suddenly you have the foresight to know that it's time to start looking back. You can contemplate what you have done, and what you haven't, and in the end, you will spend every waking second from that moment on, doing what made you happy and not what made you sad.
What Steve Jobs (and in turn the entire Apple Mac brand) represented was a certain type of innovation. We can give it many names; it's a kind of forward thinking, opinion forming, out-of-the-box-ideas way of life. And that really is what Steve Jobs represented. A way of life. Yes, I own a Mac, an iPhone, an iPod and I'm desperate for an iPad, but being a Mac user is more than just owning the products. It's allying yourself with the minority.
Nowadays, ask a PC person why they don't have a Mac and they will tell you that their computer can do everything a Mac can do only it's cheaper (and they'll feel quite smug about it too). But that's all a PC is in this day and age, just a great imitation, never an original thought. Let me give you an example of the difference.
If a Mac is Prada, a PC is Primark. Prada come up with the concepts each season, sending models down the catwalk in the newest designs, created from everything that was great about the past, with a sprinkling of things we don't even know are great yet, from the future. Primark doesn't have a catwalk show, it doesn't make a big show of itself, it's gets on with things, knowing accurately which trends are worth copying and which ones were too 'out there' for the masses. It dilutes the ideas of the major fashion houses and produces fashions that people can afford. It's aspirational.
Furthermore, if a PC is clever, a Mac is intelligent. A PC went to school and bought all the right text books. He read them front to back, he absorbed the information and he applied it during his exams. His essays were perfect. Exactly like the test answers he learned from. A Mac flicked through the book, extracting the important information. He then combined what he had already learned with his impeccable sense of reason, to come up with an answer that hadn't already been written in a book. His essays had style.
At school (I went to an independent girls school in Hertfordshire) I was a Mac. In hindsight, I think that what the teachers wanted to produce were PCs. Word perfect little lemmings, ready to embark on careers in law, medicine, business or politics. Serious jobs. 'Real' jobs. So when I exclaimed that I would be running off to art school instead of Oxbridge, more than a few eyebrows shot up. "But you're so clever!" was the frequent rebuff I would hear. It became like an insult. I didn't want to be clever, I wanted to be an artist.
Being stubborn, from that day forth I trusted my gut and eventually moved into the creative world of the arts. After university I went freelance and I've never looked back. If there is one thing I believe in life (and trust me, there aren't many, I have a very nihilistic view on everything) it is that there are no truer words than: "Don't Settle."
And noone says it better than Steve Jobs did himself, during the Commencement address on June 12, 2005.
"I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. 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."
These words are not just inspirational speaking. For many, this is absolute truth. This is the gospel of the creative and innovative person. If you don't love what you do, you'll look back and the dots won't connect. You'll have wasted your life to somebody else's opinion of what you should have been or done.
Having a freelance career isn't necessarily 'free.' There is no guarantee of a wage every month... there isn't even a guarantee of work and you are only ever as good as your last job. The freelance life has no routine, you're jumping from one place to the next in completely different parts of town, with new working hours every day. You are constantly searching for something bigger and better. If someone asks "Do you wanna come for dinner on Thursday?" your answer is probably... "Err, can I let you know on Wednesday night?" - you might be free now, but you could be booked in a week. And God forbid you suggest a sick day to a freelancer. Every sick day is money straight down the pan. Plus, Macs never get viruses.
But inversely, the lifestyle is spontaneous, independent, full of new people and experiences. It doesn't matter WHAT you do, just that you're doing it. And this is what I love in life, being undefined yet still being productive. I am a writer. I am a journalist. I am an artist. I am a photographer. I design books. I research pictures... And why stop there? There is no end to the amount of job titles one should be allowed to apply to the bottom of their email signature.
If it wasn't for the Macs of this world, pushing the boundaries of what a job description is and could be, questioning the mundaneness of the 9-5, really progressing with new ideas and never stopping to question why, we'd all be stuck in a world with PCs that run beautifully well but never change.
For anyone out there like me, that worries when their friends with 'real' jobs call them lazy if they're stuck with seven days and no work, stop now. We just didn't settle for the life society told us we should have. And thank God we didn't. Because maybe one day we can make, do, write about, take a picture of, sculpt or solder together something inspirational that might change the world.
Well... that's what iDream about.
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