The news of Steve Job’s death has been all over the internet. Even over here in Indonesia I’ve been able to follow the story quite a bit by reading all the articles and comments. It’s been nice to see all the tributes pouring in for him. No doubt he has influenced a lot of lives.

The news of his passing really kind of hit me like a blow to the gut. I knew he was sick, but definitely didn’t see that one coming. I guess his health, like everything else at Apple, he kept a closely guarded secret. It’s hard to put into words just how much subtle influence he has had on my life personally. I’ve been using Apple computers my whole life, and even when it was ‘uncool’ in the 90’s to be a Mac fan I stuck with them.

The first computer I ever used was an Apple IIe. It loaded 5 1/4 inch floppy disks, had a green bubble screen, and it honked at you when you made an error. I laugh about it now, but I have a lot of fond memories of our old Apple IIe. It’s amazing how things you experience as a child effect you and pave the way for your future. My exposure to a ‘personal computer’ at such a young age has shaped my life in profound ways.

One summer my dad brought home an Apple IIgs. I remember my brothers and I were blown away by the enhanced graphics and sound. We had a lot of fun playing the games. This was the first computer too that had a mouse. I remember being really confused about how to use it. It didn’t work very well when I tried to move the little ball with my finger. But then somebody pointed out that it rolls on top of the desk and it was a eureka moment. Brilliant!

In high school I saved up my money and bought my first Mac, a 233 Mhz G3 PowerPC Mac with a 17 inch CRT monitor. Boy was I proud of this purchase. I didn’t let anybody touch it! Games started to scream when I added a 4MB video card a few years later.

But it wasn’t very cool to be a Mac fan in the 90’s. Most people don’t realize this now but for most of Apple’s history they have been the underdog. They were always in Microsoft’s shadow. The classic “1984” commercial they put out during the Superbowl was just all too telling of Apple’s position against Big Brother IBM. It was a fight against mainstream computing. Everybody predicted Apple was doomed to go out of business when Windows95 came out. It copied the look and feel of MacOS and pretty much did all the same things. But Apple hung on.

Enter Steve Jobs. . . again. He really did save the company. A string of strategic decisions followed by awesome products put Apple back on the map. First the iMac. Then the iPod. MacOS X was years ahead of the competition. And building new Macs with Intel processors that could run both Windows and MacOS was brilliant. Way to go Steve. By the time they released the iPhone and iPad in 2007 and on they were already way out on top. I heard several months back that Apple surpassed Microsoft in stock value. In other words, Apple is bigger than Microsoft, their old nemesis. I just had to smile at that and call to mind all the nay sayers who predicted Apple’s demise. Finally, the little guy won. And just recently I heard that Apple had more money on hand than the US government and was the most valuable company in the world. Pretty incredible. I still find this all very hard to believe. Thanks Steve for the wonderful ride.

No doubt Steve Jobs will be remembered for the visionary he was. A guy who was relentless in seeing his dreams and vision come to fruition. Accepting no compromise. A perfectionist. I think he and I have a lot in common. I too want to live out my passions. I also want to change the world. It’s not about what we leave behind that matters though. It’s about who we can touch along the way. I think Steve Jobs knew this when he complimented Bill Gates one time for not wanting to be “the richest guy in the cemetery”. He understood that treasures and success don’t matter in the end.

When I think about Steve Jobs and all that he was able to accomplish, it’s hard not to admire him. But when I think about the long run, when I think about eternity, I have a very different outlook. Steve’s passing reminds us that our lives are so fleeting. One blink and it’s all over. What on earth are you doing for heaven’s sake?? Because in the end that’s all that really matters.

One thing you should know about Indonesians is that they love karaoke. I think Asian people in general love karaoke. It’s definitely no exception here. This is something we’ve had to get used to. They’re crazy about it. Every wedding there is always karaoke. Karaoke here is much different than in the States. Here, you don’t have to possess talent. You’re actual musical or vocal ability has NOTHING to do with it. Anybody and everybody can karaoke (and they do!). It’s not an embarrassing thing. They get up there, no reserve, sing their little hearts out, off key a lot of times, and sit down feeling all the more happy for it. The important thing is that you tried.

Kim and I have had our fair share of karaoke experiences here, much to our chagrin. Not that we’ve wanted to! But when everybody around us loves it so much it’s kind of hard to say no. And being the guests of honor we don’t want to offend anybody. Here are a couple for instances.

The first time I karaoked was with a group of boys who invited me and Kim to their family wedding. I didn’t want to karaoke, but they all thought it would be so great if I got up there and sang a song for everybody. And they promised they’d back me up. But when the DJ announced I was going to sing something they panicked and stayed in their seats. So I got up in front of the whole crowd (none of which I knew of course) and sang Imagine by John Lennon. The worst part about this was that there were no words to look at and I didn’t know the whole song. So I just sort of repeated the first verse over and over again until the song was over. When the song was over the whole crowd erupted into applause and I sheepishly took my seat. I don’t think they knew the difference.

One other time, more recently, we were asked to karaoke at another wedding. This time my friends came up with me, along with Kim. So about five of us were going to sing. I scanned through the English songs that the DJ had and finally settled on My Girl by The Temptations. Fortunately they had lyrics to read. So Kim and I started singing, but our Indonesian friends didn’t know the words and stood there. Then at the chorus I signaled them and we all joined in for “My Girl, My Girl. . . talkin’ bout My Girl, MY GIRL!” That part they could do. Oh my gosh it was hilarious. After the song was over there was applause again and we walked back to our seats. It turns out the DJ recorded us and started playing the song over the loud speakers. Wow, as if once wasn’t enough!

The last time we had to karaoke was the grand daddy of them all. Kim and I drove out to a village wedding with our local family, about a forty-five minute drive. They rarely get to see foreigners out there and we really stood out. We all took our seats. The reception began and the man up on the stage paid a special welcome to their guests from America. He went on to explain that we were fluent in Indonesian, the village language (Anugerah), and the mountain language (which is not true). FURTHERMORE we were going to sing a song for everyone. What?! This was a break in protocol. Usually the singing and karaoke happens after the prayers. I looked over at Uncle Weh who was just as surprised as me. He graciously agreed to sing for us while we stood up on stage and ‘joget’ (dance). So we got up on stage, everyone watching us wondering what the heck we’re going to do. . . and the music starts. Uncle Weh starts singing and Kim and I start dancing in place in front of all these people. Here’s their first glimpse of white people- Josh and Kim making complete fools of themselves on stage dancing around, trying to take it all in stride. I’ve been stretched in a lot of ways since coming overseas, but that one was probably the worst.

Of course it wouldn’t help to explain to them that we don’t really do karaoke in my culture, that we don’t like getting up in front of strangers, and singing/dancing on stage is really awkward!! I think we’ve tried explaining that before, but for whatever reason it never works. Oh well, you win some you lose some. As crazy, awkward, silly, weird, dumbfounding and baffling as these experiences are, sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself, laugh at them, and just go with it.