STEVE JOBS REVEALS HIS SPIRITUAL SIDE.
Autograph Letter Signed ("steve jobs"), 1p, 4to, [Santa Cruz Mountains], [February 23, 1974], to Tim Brown, with autograph envelope, small piece torn from the right-hand side (apparently torn by Jobs in removing an error), folded, but otherwise fine, envelope torn.
Provenance: Tim Brown.
i will end by saying i do not even know where to begin.
In full: "tim i have read your letter many times / i do not know what to say. many mornings have come and gone / people have came and went / i have loved and i have cried many times. / somehow, though, beneath it all it doesn't change - do you
i am now living on a farm in the mountains between Los Gatos and Santa Cruz. i wish to go to india for the Kumba Mela, which starts in April. i will be leaving sometime in March, not really certain yet. if you desire, and i am still here when you arive (sic), we can come up here in the mountains together and you can tell me your thoughts and feelings, which I did not fully understand from your letter. There is a fire in the other room and i am getting cold here. i will end by saying i do not even know where to begin. / shanti / steve jobs."
Tim Brown, the recipient of the present letter, was one of Jobs' closest friends from Homestead High. In response to Brown's letter sharing his thoughts on Zen Buddhism. Jobs claims not to understand ("I do not know what to say"), but then expresses great depth beyond his age ("... i have loved and i have cried many times. / somehow, though, beneath it all it doesn't change....").
Jobs was clearly immersed in a search for meaning at this stage in his life. His letter provides evidence of his interest in Buddhism, the poetry of Hanshan (which is echoed in the stanza here), Hinduism, and a touch of Robert Frost (filtered through Bob Dylan?), perhaps, in his penultimate line.
Postmarked a day before his 19th birthday, this letter finds Jobs returning to the South Bay from his time in Oregon after he dropped out of Reed College and spent time on the All One apple farm. Around this time, Jobs was working at Atari, the Sunnyvale-based video game company led by Nolan Bushnell, saving money for his trip to India. As evidenced by the lack of a return address on the envelope, Jobs didn't have a fixed address. He ostensibly moved back in with his parents on Crist Drive in Los Altos, but he also stayed with friends including his girlfriend Chrisann Brennan. He mentions in the letter that he's "living on a farm in the mountains between Los Gatos and Santa Cruz." Some sources state that he had lived in a Los Gatos cabin in the foothills of the Santa Cruz mountains at this time, though none provide exact details.
Jobs closes the letter with a wonderful, almost teasing circular statement with a seemingly tacked on valediction: " i will end by saying i do not even know where to begin. / shanti / steve jobs."
Jobs would make his way to India in April of 1973, just missing the Kumba Mela, but nonetheless, finding the experience deep and meaningful, a turning point in his life: "Coming back to America was, for me, much more of a cultural shock than going to India. The people in the Indian countryside don't use their intellect like we do, they use their intuition instead, and their intuition is far more developed than in the rest of the world. Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect, in my opinion. That's had a big impact on my work" (Jobs/Isaacson p 48).
Jobs, perhaps partly influenced by his friend Tim Brown, took up the study of Zen Buddhism upon his return and began following Kobun Chino Otogawa with whom he met with almost daily. It was a practice that continued throughout his life; Otogawa even officiated Jobs' wedding to Laurene Powell in 1991.
It's known among his friends that Jobs rarely, if ever, wrote letters. Jobs and Brown were close in high school and remained in touch throughout Jobs' life; it is a testament to the respect Jobs had for Brown that he put pen to paper to share his thoughts. No autograph letters from Jobs have previously appeared at auction and certainly no material as revealing and insightful as the present letter. Isaacson. Steve Jobs. New York: ; personal interviews with Tim Brown.