Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Dear John Letter to Jordan Bastean, Our Traveling Soldier

Dear Jordan,

I'm so sorry to inform you that it is over. I'm so sorry to tell you that you will never grow up to become the great man you were meant to be. You will not be able to give your mom grandbabies and you will not be able to show up your dad when it comes to beating his best time in the Chicago Marathon.Your life has been cut short and that's a fact.

But I want to tell you how proud we are of you. Like everyone else, I want to hug you one last time and let that crooked smile burn a permanent memory into my mind's eye. If only I had known the last time I saw you was going to be the last time I saw you alive. I know this is the most unfortunate news because you had so many plans, so many goals and so much to accomplish in this shitty world. The funny thing is, you were so damn positive that no one wanted to stand in your way. We couldn't bear to tell you to be more careful and we didn't dare to try and dissuade you from joining the military even during a time of such global unrest. We knew from the time that you were little that you were made for greatness and we knew better than to question your pure intentions to make life better for those who needed it most.

Please know that we all take solace in that; the fact that you were so technically prepared as an expert marksman and soldier and you were so humble and caring at the same time. You were meant to be the person you were way before you made the decision to go into the Marines and now we must all tell ourselves that you are in a good place. A better place.

I'm not going to lie. Telling ourselves that you are in a better place is a rather bitter pill to swallow. We are still in shock and may be for some time. Forgive us if we convince ourselves that you are merely off traveling as part of your tour of duty instead of grappling with the reality that you are gone. You were way too young to die and way too good for us to let go. Our collective hearts break for your mom and your dad; both who lived lives dedicated to their only son. I don't mean to layer on the pressure, but you were the apple of their eyes, you were the sun in their solar systems. With your departure, it's like the plug has been pulled and they are struggling for air. I can say that because I happen to love your dad like a brother. And I won't let myself think about what it feels like to be a parent of a fallen soldier. I'm tough, but I'm no Marine. It's something I'm not prepared to face. What I am prepared to do is stand by your mom and your dad and be as strong as they need for as long as they need. You will be my muse, dear Jordan, and I will ask that you guide us down this road of healing as only you can. I will ask that you allow us to quickly get to a place where we can remember your stellar qualities more than we focus on the extraordinary life that was so tragically cut short.

So I send you this note, dear Jordan, because we love you and miss you dearly. I send you this note because you need to know that we will look out for each other during this terrible time and we will remember your goofy ways, your honest eyes, your genuine and strong handshake and your soul that will forever inspire us to do better, to look for the good in people and to fight for the right to live a fair and honest life as you had for the tender 19 years that your presence graced this planet.

Rest in peace, J.

We love you.


Your family and all others who will forever wait for their traveling soldier to come back home again

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs Delighted the World Through Discovery

It was Jobs' job, indeed, to thine own self be true. But what about the customer? Steve wanted that job too and he certainly did a helluva job. Mr. Jobs’s own research and intuition, not focus groups, were his guide, said a recent NYT article. When asked what market research went into the iPad, Mr. Jobs replied: “None. It’s not the consumers’ job to know what they want.”

Which is somewhat funny, considering he created products that people tend to hold more dear than most personal relationship. Ask anyone who claims to be an Apple advocate; would you rather lose your [iPhone, Mac, iPad, etc] for a day or not talk to your [mom, dog, child, etc.] and a fair percentage would opt to stay connected to a Jobs' labor of love over their own.

The New York Times article that details the life and times of Steve Jobs may be considered an official obituary, but it's way more than that. It's a tribute to the very idea of innovation and connectivity that is such a critical component to overall human growth. It has a link to Steve Jobs' patents. It has a section for reader submissions to invite people to contribute their thoughts on how he touched their life. It offers page after page of fine detail of a life well lived. A baby born out of adoption, a child with electronic genius, a Cupertino high school dude and his Wozniak best friend and all the adventures that became so worldly known; a date with Joan Baez, a crush on Bob Dylan perhaps (who could blame him for that?!?!) a birthday party with Ella Fitzgerald, a personal corporate jet, a little LSD here and a little that there, a handful of children to adore and a few decent patents.

It's inspiring, this curtailed life. Makes you think that there should be more and at the same time, reminds us to smile about the fact that it happened at all.

Not at all an exaggeration, Steve Jobs quipped more than once that Mark Twain was inevitably correct in his 1897 New York Times article detailing an illness and an exaggerated death. This time around, Jobs' own New York Times obituary ends with,

If he had a motto, it may have come from “The Whole Earth Catalog,” which he said had deeply influenced him as a young man. The book, he said in his commencement address at Stanford in 2005, ends with the admonition “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”

“I have always wished that for myself,” he said.