“You can’t connect the dots looking forward. You can only connect them looking backwards, so you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something–your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever–because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make all the difference.”  Steve Jobs

YouTube Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement 2005
Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement 2005

Can you imagine this decade without Steve Jobs? You’ve heard of Apple? Pixar? iTunes? Are you old enough to remember when our computers wrote in one font: computer?

What if Steve had never been born? Did you know he was adopted?

Steve tells three personal stories in this Stanford commencement address, one illustrating how following his passions (such as calligraphy), contributed to his adventures–and our collective global artistic/technology landscape. And he observes that we can only connect those dots in retrospect.

On the way to that story, he mentions his adoption story as a preface–it’s not the main point for him. He’s just explaining that his working class parents had promised his grad student biological mother that he’d go to college–which he did do for a while.

But my favorite part is that adoption story. Half of my two children arrived that way.

Abortion/adoption–how close the words, how different the result. As a teacher who warns students against logical fallacies, I get frustrated when both sides fall into the “either-or,” “horns of dilemma” logical fallacy, as though each child’s life and each unwed mother’s future are sworn enemies, locked in a literal battle to the death–as though there could never be a loving option to save them both. Every day, I bless the name of the young woman who chose to give our mutual son his life and a family.

I’m also struck by the story of a lawyer and his wife who decided at the last minute that they’d rather adopt a girl. The baby boy they declined grew up to be Steve Jobs.

Text © Gwyn Nichols 2011

Photo: Stanford’s YouTube post, screen shot easily captured by a Mac.