I was sitting in traffic one day this past summer when a man ran down the middle of the highway right past the window of my stationary vehicle and headlong into the flow of oncoming traffic from the other direction. A heavy set man, he was adorned in rumpled gray sweats and flip flops, and he ran furiously down the road waving his iPhone above his head. As I watched him in near disbelief, the legacy of the famed Steve Jobs came to mind, as did others of significant accomplishments past. I think they’re all dead now.
“What hath God wrought” is famously attributed to Samuel Morse at the birth of his telegraph in 1844, but comes from the Bible in Numbers 23:23 and is more clearly translated today as “It will now be said of Jacob and of Israel, ‘See what God has done!’”
This phrase rattled through my mind for days or even weeks as I contemplated the behavior of that man in traffic, as well as myself and countless others as our lives and our behaviors are influenced by or even revolve around that thing we call the iPhone. I’m typing these words on one right now.
Steve Jobs had a hand in the invention of many things, as did Samuel Morse and many others who went before him. That day sitting in traffic, I happened to be in Yellowstone National Park, enjoying the natural surroundings of the original “Great Inventor” if you will allow me to say, and watching in disbelief at the way people behaved in one of our nation’s few remaining places that could be called truly wild. All along the way, I wondered what the experience would be like if there were no iPhones.
No GPS. No calling or texting to find out where our loved ones were. Fewer pictures being taken. Fewer failed attempts to manage all the things I just mentioned.
I almost forgot to mention “selfies”. There would be no selfies. One of the biggest impacts or Mr. Jobs legacy is the way we take pictures of ourselves and other living things around us with near disregard for decorum or danger. The world is not Disneyland, although we often seek to make it just so.
Speaking of Disney, I’ve spent the past two evenings watching a fascinating account of his life and legacy on the PBS series “The American Experience”.
One of the tag lines of the series is “Where we’ve been, where we are, where we’re going”. Touché.
Mr. Disney wanted to make a name for himself. So did Mr. Jobs, I would assume. Both struggled, succeeded in great ways, and then struggled some more on their way to the next success. Then they died, as did Mr. Morse, and King James, and King Solomon, and King David before him. The list could go on and on.
Mr. Disney even thought enough of himself to have his head cryogenically frozen, or so it is said. I assume it remains there today.
Life is more than a great big selfie. In the end, people may see and recall who we are, who we were, or where we ultimately went. Or, they may not.
The important thing is that you struggle through, get up when you fall down, and fall you will, and keep on going. The world will be a better place in ways big or in ways small from your best efforts.
And I might add, if you take a selfie or two or post a few words on your blog along the way as evidence of what you personally “wrought” as a small part of God’s creation, so be it. I might do the same.
I’ve got the iPhone to prove it. 😜