DEATH is the “single best invention of Life,” Steve Jobs told graduates of Stanford University in 2005. It is life’s change agent, clearing out the old to make way for the new, he said in his commencement speech that regained popularity online with his resignation last week as Apple chief executive officer over medical reasons.
“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.”
Jobs said that starting at 17, he’d look in the mirror every morning and asked himself, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”
That question, however, became more than rhetorical when he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2004 and underwent surgery. He was fine for a while but needed a liver transplant, which he had in 2009. He had been on medical leave since January.