I just finished reading the Walter Isaacson biography of Steve Jobs. In many ways, it struck me as a stereotypical story of the Baby Boomers. Jobs came of age in the Sixties and his adoptive father was a hard working veteran who was able to provide a middle class upbringing to Steve.
He dropped acid, loved the Beatles and Dylan and got into eastern religion. He flew to India and spent time there, then embraced strange practices such as week long fasts or eating only a certain fruit for weeks at a time. He was a vegetarian who liked going around barefoot and didn’t shower because he was convinced that his diet prevented body odor. He took a pilgrimage to India and embraced meditation. He believed that all the religions are just different doors into the same room. He spurned cheaper state colleges so he could attend offbeat Reed College, in something of a spoiled fit. He got his girlfriend pregnant and told her he was okay with her getting an abortion, then ignored his daughter for years after she was born. He was petulant and hurtful to people, excusing his behavior as “just the way I am.” His affinity for alternative therapy probably killed him because he tried fruit juices and other offbeat treatments instead of surgery, until it was too late.
His aesthetic taste was immaculate and he spurred the development of great products. He pushed people to do far more than they thought they were capable of in search of perfect products. He was a visionary. And yet his life is, like all of our lives, sad in that it ended in a death that snuffed him out and took his knowledge to the grave with him. I hope that somehow he turned to Christ in his last hours and embraced the faith that he was taught as a young boy in the Lutheran Church. There is no evidence that this happened, but who knows what prayers he might have offered in the midst of his pain?
But his life, to me, summarizes the Boomers: all religions are the same, ultimate truth does not matter as much as some sort of enlightenment (which does not impact how we act towards one another), talk the talk about materialism whilst pursuing consumerism with a vengeance, and embrace weird therapies instead of western medicine. Future historians will be able to look at his life as a template for what the Sixties generation believed and how they lived it out.