It's been fascinating to read all the remembrances of Steve Jobs over the past couple of days, and all the inspiring eulogies written by those whose lives he had profoundly affected in some way.
As much as I'd love to, however, I don't really have any stories like that. Obviously my career would likely not be anything like it is now, and I almost certainly wouldn't have the sort of community standing I now enjoy. But I can't really say that I would miss him because of that– I am where I am, and I shall go further, and his presence is unlikely to affect that. I am of course grateful for his role in creating a world where I've been able to achieve what I have, but that world is here now.
So, why would I miss him? What, exactly, am I mourning? Because I'm clearly affected by his passing.
After much musing, I think I now know.
Firstly there is a selfish reason: there was so much more I believe I could have learned by watching him. I learn best by watching others, and I've paid close attention to Steve Jobs for a long time now. Each decision, each statement, I tried to understand; to walk around in his shoes for a while. Perhaps I wouldn't agree with him, but I could hardly grow as a person unless I understood why that was, and could justify both sides. The justifications, after all, are what should be compared, not the actions themselves.
So I'm sad that there is little more I can learn from him. He was a good teacher in that regard (and I know teachers, I was raised by them), and so I shall miss all that I'll never learn from judging his reactions to what happens in the future.
Secondly, I feel like he had great respect for the users of computers. That manifested as his perfection, I think, and I know a lot of people are (or would be) grateful for that. So we respected him in return— what goes around comes around. Therefore, we feel the same loss we would for anyone whom we held in esteem.
So I guess what I have to thank Steve Jobs for is all that he taught me, and the respect he showed to me, and engendered in me, all without even knowing of my existence.
Thank you Steve. Take your rest now, you've earned it a thousandfold.