Ten years ago, I was living a quiet, unremarkable life as a suburban IT professional. I had mousy hair and wore mousy colors and dreamt mousy little dreams. It was stable and secure and, truth be told, just a little bit boring. You probably already know that my life transformed into something strange and amazing when I played the Beast, our collective moment in Manchester. But change like that doesn't happen all at once; it happens in little drips and dribbles, until finally, one day, you take a leap of faith and realize as you fall that nothing is the way it was before.
For me, that moment was the day I bought an Apple computer.
To me, that white, shiny iBook represented my point of no return. Apple was even then the lingua franca of the creative world: artists, designers, writers. And so purchasing that computer represented a daring move, turning my key to a door I'd only just begun believing ever could open for me, really and for real.
It was a gamble, too, that Apple was on its way up -- and that I really would make it in the creative world; neither one an easy bet to make at the time. If I'd had to slink back to my career in IT, making IBM-centric document imaging systems for banks and bureaucracies, those few thousand dollars would have been wasted. We didn't really have a few thousand dollars to waste.
But why did Apple mean the creative life? Was it just the result of clever marketing? Oh, you could make a case for that, of course. That doesn't change the fact that buying that computer meant something very important to me. And I like to think their marketing was and is so resonant because it taps into a fundamental truth about what they do: They make technology into something beautiful. They make technology into something human.
Thank you, Steve Jobs. Thank you for giving me a fitting symbol for my deep breath and daring jump into this big, risk-taking, joyous life I live now. We'll never forget you.