An Open Letter to Richie McCaw

Dear Richie –

I thought I’d write you this letter today because this weekend is the beginning of a rough slog towards the ultimate pinnacle of your rugby career – a Rugby World Cup championship won on home soil.

I must admit, being a foreigner with only 7 years of rugby madness coursing through my blood, I probably still don’t quite grasp how important this acheievement will be to you and the squad (and New Zealand as a whole).

To me it all seems so exciting. Bright lights. Party central. A buzzing atmosphere. But, to you, the leader of the pack – this is what will carry you from living legend to a cemented national hero and icon. Who knows what might happen if the AB’s being home the cup with you at the healm? A statue in bronze. Your face on the $10 note. A flavour of potato chips named after you (sweet and salty). As it stands now, you’re already the most recognizable face in Godzone.

Good news though! If you came home with me to the small town in California where I grew up (a girl can dream) you’d have some anonymity. I can offer you that. But here in your homeland, winning this golden cup will grant you immortality. I bet that’s both scary and cool all at the same time. But, like I said, if you ever need a break from greatness, there’s always going home to California with me.

I can’t imagine the weight on your shoulders right now (and I’m not talking Tony Woodcock playing “chicken” sitting on yours). It’s the weight of the mixed hopes, dreams and expectations of your nation. People from toddlers to toddling geriatrics are donning their AB colours and shouting your name. And all I can hope for is that you’re able to have some normality in your life (eg. A clear mind) without the din of the world cup giving your ear drums a bashing. That’s what you’ll be counting on your family, team mates and friends for. But no matter how shielded you are, you’ll know it’s happening even if you can’t taste, smell, touch, hear, see it all…won’t you?

That’s why we love you so much. You’re an everyday bloke with talent and humility and you can handle the pressure. Yep, we’ll keep you around.

So Richie, even though we don’t know each other I want you to know that we all believe in you and the team. In fact I believe in you more than I believe in the power of cake to bring a smile to a small child’s face (I have a theory about cake and it’s proportional effect of happiness, let’s chat about it one day). So, I’ll close this letter with one little bit of advice for you: go forth and kick ass.

Yep, it’s that simple.

We’re all cheering you and the boys on, so if you need someone in your corner just turn around. No matter where you are, you’ve got the support of every All Black fan alive heading your way. And, if you’re looking for me specifically, have your people call my people – as they say back home – we’ll do lunch.

Sincerely,

Me

An Open Letter to Steve Jobs

Dear Steve,

This is a letter I’ve been meaning to write for a long time now. I’ve jotted notes down on post-its, put ideas into the notepad on my iPhone and have gone over what I’d write when I finally put pen to paper in this open letter to you. And here it is, a day late and a dollar short. Like many people the whole world over, I felt that lump of sadness in my throat and the twinge in my stomach when the news broke. Of course we all knew you were sick, why else would you have stepped away from the helm of Apple? Yes, we knew your time on Earth was coming to a close. But, even so, the news of your death was still shocking.

Steve, you and I never met. We never shared a meal, or a laugh or an idea. But I felt like I knew you. You were Mr. Everyman who embraced your individuality and didn’t compromise even when faced with failure and disappointment. Your unwavering belief in Apple and the originality of the products you pioneered helped build an empire. One that I am sure will continue to shape the world in which we live in.

I remember the first time I saw an Apple computer. I was probably ten-years-old and recall an adult saying in the background “Apple is the next big thing!” Boy was that person right on the  money. The Apple computer I’m conjuring up from the old days was big, clunky and ran okay. To my childish eyes it wasn’t anything impressive. That said, fast forward two decades and devices such as my iPhone and iPad have changed the way I socialize, the way I share memories, the way I write stories, the way I connect with my loved ones. Thanks to you, Steve, I was able to take 15 minutes of my lunch break today and sit in the stairwell at work and look my mother in the eyes and share a laugh with her and my Dad. They live half a world away, but for a short time it was like all the miles between us fell away. It was magic.

And it’s that magic, that power to connect that I think means the most to the bazillions of people who use Apple devices. If allowing people to connect is what you’re remembered for in the end, even more than the advances you made in technology, I’d be okay with that. I’m pretty sure you’d be chuffed with having that as your lasting legacy, too. Being able to bring pure joy to people by allowing them moments that would never have happened without an Apple product in their life is something to be super proud of.

And your story. I’ve watched your Stanford commencement speech from 2005 more times than I can count. I find your words, your memories and your revelations about how you found success in life to be so inspiring because you’re just like me. What I mean by that isn’t that you’re a 5’10” blonde with a penchant for carrot cake, rather that your story started as a typical one but grew into something extraordinary. I like that about you. Your humility. Your pride in what you did. The extreme happiness you got out of your work. And, most importantly, how you stuck to your guns no matter the pressure coming at you from all angles.

Then of course, came cancer. The bastard. Perhaps it came into your life to show us all that, no matter how amazing a man is and can become, he’s still just a man. But you were more than flesh and blood. You’ll go down in the annals of history as someone who left an indelible mark on advancements in technology and you shaped the ways in which human beings are able to communicate with each other. I still marvel at the fact that I can take a photo of my daughter on an outing in Auckland, upload it to Facebook and then share it to 500 friends and family. Without people like you in the world we’d all still be writing letters and sending them overseas by boat. But because people like you, Steve, have dared to push the proverbial envelope, we’re all better off for it.

I’m not sure what will come next in life or what the next “Big Thing” in technology will be. But I do know that I, along with many other people in the world, will be wondering “What would Steve have thought about this?”

So, Steve I’ll close this letter with an apology. I’m sorry it took so long for me to get around to writing to you. It just seemed an almost daunting task to create a letter befitting of a man who did so much to better the world. That, and I was sure your inbox would have been too full for you to have even noticed the words I’d penned.

Your family said in a statement today that you passed over to the other side (no, I don’t mean Microsoft) peacefully. I’m happy for that.

Rest in peace, Steve.

Sincerely,

Me

An Open Letter to The Grim Reaper

Dear Angel of Death,

This is a letter that I never thought I’d have to write, but I’m doing it now because you and I have been spending too much time together recently and I’m feeling uncomfortable with the level of familiarity we’ve started to share between the two of us. Usually I would quite enjoy getting to know someone on a personal level. Learning their stories. Making memories. Sharing good times and bad. But it seems that with you, the longer you stay around the more sadness and dark clouds hang over our hearts.

To get the truth out in the open I’ll just say it: we’re a happy bunch in our house and we’re ready for you to move on. I know it’s a bit uncouth to send a “you’re a bit of a drag and bringing us down so please gather your things and move on” letter via the internet – but seeing I don’t have your direct cell phone number to call you (or perhaps send a break-up-text) and you’re difficult to have face-to-face conversations with – I thought this might be the best way to let you know that you’ve overstayed your welcome at our home and in our hearts. Really, I feel terrible to have to break up with you this way, but leaving a Dear John letter under your pillow just wasn’t going to cut the proverbial mustard on this one.

And I know what you’re going to say, I know you don’t mean to always be the bearer of bad news and the giver of devastating tidings, but that’s what you are and I think we need to make a clean break here. Just walk away from each other for a while and give each other space. It’s for the best. I also understand that death is a part of life and since you’re death personified, there’s nothing you can do to change who you are. All I’m asking is that you shape up and ship out of our lives for a while.

Going through the kind of year like we have in 2011, and losing loved ones back to back to back means you and I have gotten close. We’re homies. BFF’s. Besties. Mates. In fact, I don’t even have to see your black cape, hollowed out face and empty eyes or even catch a glint of sunlight reflecting off your polished scythe to know you’re in the room. I sense you when you’re around. I feel you under my skin. I hear you echoing in the back of my mind and in that little part of my gut that says “Awe, hell…not again!” Yep, we’re too close for comfort.

It’s time you and I parted ways, buddy.

I’m sick to death of your death. And I know my words may seem harsh but one thing you have to understand about us people in the land of the living is that we want nothing more than to wake up and smile, safe in knowing that the people we love are happy, healthy and breathing. More than that, too. We’re a bit selfish – we’d like to avoid you as often as possible. We LOVE being alive. Life and the energy around us in the world is the reason people have always searched for the ever elusive Fountain of Youth. It’s the reason we run like mice on treadmills in air-conditioned gyms to stay healthy. It’s why health food shops and stores that sell magic cures do so well (Because, these shops really aren’t magic and don’t cure anything save quieting that nagging voice in your head which says “Perhaps this will make me live longer, better?”)

I guess what I’m trying to say is that we love life so much that when we see you around the corner or when you show up unannounced we’re reminded again that we all will eventually have to jump off of this Ferris Wheel we call life. And man, we don’t want to! We’d stay at the circus and ride forever if we could. There’s just too much wonder to behold. There are too many bad jokes yet to be told. There are too many babies yet to be born. There’s too much hope and wonder in my own heart left – and every time we’re together, you and I, I lose a bit of that and have to rebuild my heart again to set it on “happy” as default.

So yeah, that’s basically what I wanted to say to you. As you can see, it’s you – not me this time making this relationship a bit sour. Please don’t take it too personally, I know being the Angel of Dark Light is a heavy burden on you. I’m glad I get to write for a living and don’t have to constantly be the bearer of bad news. That said, I’d appreciate it if you’d shove off now. At least for the rest of this year. Our souls need time to mend.

I hope you understand.

Sincerely,

Me