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On Steve Jobs, Illness and a Last Burst of Creativity

It is hard to separate the incredible burst of creativity of Steve Jobs' last few years from the illnesses that consumed him before our eyes.

The iPod arrived a few years before the 2004 diagnosis of a rare form of pancreatic cancer and certainly followed a long career of innovation.

But Jobs' post-diagnosis period brought the iterative improvements to iPod that, to cite one small example, spurred my family to buy three in six years, and the breakthroughs of the iPhone and the iPad.

For someone who has said he always sensed death over his shoulder, knowing which of death's horsemen was most likely to catch him appeared to be incredibly motivating for Jobs. While many of us would be frazzled by constant bouts with life-threatening illness, Jobs seemed to find sharper focus and must have come to the realization that his life's work was, even in the end, the most important thing he could be doing.

No matter how inseparable his illness was from his last creative period, though, it's still like they say of the death of the young in war -- it's as if Jobs were doubly dead. We mourn his passing as well as what he had left to give.

The world has lost a visionary who could see a little further into the future than the rest of us and who chose to use that gift to fashion the beautiful things he found there.

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Posted by Scott Bekker on October 07, 2011 at 11:58 AM