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Wean Yourself

Posted By Russ Roberts On May 2, 2012 @ 3:40 pm In Uncategorized | Comments Disabled

Almost done with the Isaacson bio of Steve Jobs [1]. A great book. Right now he’s talking about the launch of the iPad and you realize that Jobs is going to die soon. There’s no drama. We know how it ends. And it chokes me up. Not because I’m sad that Steve Jobs is no longer here to create great products. That’s a little sad. But there’s nothing tragic about that. Other people will create great products and great products are not really the essence of life. But his creativity and willingness to dream! We know that it must come to an end for all of us, but his comet shot across the sky so brightly and with such passion. The end of that is what is so poignant.

I was just reading a wonderful book called Orbiting the Giant Hairball [2] by Gordon McKenzie–it’s about how to maintain creativity and excellence in a corporate environment. It opens with the poem “Wean Yourself” by Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks. It’s a poem about leaving your comfort zone and taking chances. Jobs did that as well as anyone. As the poem suggests, that’s a big part of what makes us human:

Little by little, wean yourself.
This is the gist of what I have to say.

From an embryo, whose nourishment comes in the blood,
move to an infant drinking milk,
to a child on solid food,
to a searcher after wisdom,
to a hunter of more invisible game.

Think how it is to have a conversation with an embryo.
You might say, “The world outside is vast and intricate.
There are wheatfields and mountain passes,
and orchards in bloom.

At night there are millions of galaxies, and in sunlight
the beauty of friends dancing at a wedding.”

You ask the embryo why he, or she, stays cooped up
in the dark with eyes closed.

                  Listen to the answer.

There is no “other world.”
I only know what I’ve experienced.
You must be hallucinating.

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[1] Isaacson bio of Steve Jobs: http://www.amazon.com/Walter-Isaacson/e/B000APFLB8/invisiblehear-20

[2] Orbiting the Giant Hairball: http://www.amazon.com/Orbiting-Giant-Hairball-Corporate-Surviving/dp/0670879835/invisiblehear-20

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