I had plans to work on a pretty important project this evening, but they’ve been entirely derailed by the passing of tech icon and Apple cofounder Steve Jobs. I’ve been watching all the chatter on my social feeds all evening.
As I watch the comments flutter down my screen, I keep thinking of Ecclesiastes.
Like Jobs, Solomon was a man with an intellect so stunning that his brain was considered a national resource. It brought unimagined prosperity to him personally, and the whole “known world” of his time seemed to benefit from his gifts. Solomon also spoke of his incredible drive and work ethic to accomplish great things and leave a lasting legacy.
And yet, in thinking back, he acknowledged that ultimately, his wisdom, wealth and work were “meaningless, a chasing after the wind,” because he was eventually going to end up returning to dust like any impoverished fool.
Jobs also seemed consumed with the pursuit of significance: “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.”
I think we’re all plagued by the question of meaning and mortality. The death of a certifiable genius, I think, highlights that no matter who you are or how many resources you have at your disposal, death is inevitable.
Whatever you believe comes after death, that inevitability will force you to think very hard about your life.