Dawdling about the Monastery over morning coffee, I wandered into the Saints in our Book node. And was intrigued by the entries in the "Last Here" column that are measured in years: 3 years ago, 4 years ago, 5, 6, 7... 8 years ago!
In other words, people who have moved on to other things.
Now, people move on in their work lives. But what struck me was the casualness of the breaks. Look at these people's most recent posts. In almost all cases, their last post was some ordinary act of replying to a node. One minute they're engaged Perl users, hanging out on PerlMonks answering questions. Then, perhaps the very next minute after that last post, their work lives take some sort of turn that expunges Perl discussion from their lives forever. Or at least for 3,4,5...8 years.
Perl monks, it seems, by and large, don't go out with a bang - they just go gentle into that good night. One minute a Perl Monk brimming with years of knowledge and skill, the next minute there will never be cause for another conversation about Perl for the rest of their lives. No fanfare, no decision - just silence.
I find it ponderous. Years spent honing a craft, amassing knowledge. It's all so critically important in the moment. Then one day, it's not. It all just becomes irrelevant enough to never speak of it again. I think it would be a very interesting study to know what happened in all these people's lives at that point.
But this most certainly has zero to do with Perl and everything to do with life. A case of Perl-life illuminating a facet of life in general. How many things do we experience in the same way. There's not always a graduation, or a divorce, or a retirement party, at the end of a phase in life.
Sometimes, we just move on.
But in the meantime, the thing that so obsessed us for so long has served us well. Its new irrelevance does not diminish the reality of its importance to us at the time. Nor does our moving on diminish the real value of whatever it is to those who are entering a similar phase of life. So hopefully all that knowledge and experience don't get truly lost. Hopefully it gets passed on to those who are now finding it critical to their lives.
In the context of Perl, and programming in general, this brings us full circle to PerlMonks.org. Old monks can go gently into that good night without the the accompanying tragedy of all that knowledge being lost. So all is right and good in the universe.