Steve Jobs vs. Ezio Auditore: On Leaving Behind What You Started






I think it is fair to say one of the biggest fears we all share is that we will be unable to finish what we started; that we will die before our dreams can ever come true. I know that fear is always at the back of my mind. When it was announced that Steve Jobs, age 56, passed away last year, I couldn’t help but wonder: in his final moments, was he satisfied with the state of Apple or at least satisfied with Apple’s current path of development as a company? Did he feel like he completed what he set out to do?

Those same thoughts rushed back in my head when I finished Assassin’s Creed: Revelations. For those not familiar with the series, one of the main protagonists, Ezio Auditore da Firenze, joins the Assassin brotherhood and leads it in the fight against the Templars and, of course, avenges the death of his father and brothers who were killed at the hands of the Templars. In Revelations, the last game in the series to feature him, Ezio Auditore, age 52, [SPOILER] moves on with his life and announces that he has done everything he could to leave his legacy:

“I have lived my life as best I could, not knowing its purpose but drawn forward like a moth to a distant moon.

“And here at last I discover a strange truth, that I am only a conduit for a message that eludes my understanding.

“Who are we? We have been so blessed to share our stories like this, to speak across centuries. Maybe you will answer all the questions I have asked. Maybe you will be the one who will make all this suffering worth something in the end.”

(Watch the speech.) [/SPOILER]

I always had immense respect for people who saw through everything they started through to the end, like people who start their own company and run it until the day they die, and friends of mine who started student groups in college and put all the sweat and blood they could into them until they graduated. But when I put Assassin’s Creed: Revelations down for the last time, I realized I have even more respect for people who can accept that seeing something through to the end is not possible, that our biggest fear—being unable to finish what one started—has indeed come true, and the only way around it is to gather all the strength within us to simply move on.

By their 50s, both Steve Jobs and Ezio Auditore da Firenze have left a legacy, one in technology and the other in the survival of freedom. Both gained some degree of a negative reputation by using questionable means towards their goal, one in his apparent treatment of colleagues and the other in the death of many. And both were only conduits for a message—a dream—that might not have been realized in their lifetime.

I believe that we can only take solace in one fact: when one has a dream so large in scope, perhaps there is no way for one individual to reach such a pinnacle, if it exists at all, in their lifetime. Perhaps the only dream or pinnacle one can hope to reach in a lifetime is the lifelong pursuit of it. If we each are already pursuing a dream then perhaps there is nothing left to be afraid of.