Aside from some very BASIC programming in grade school, Perl was my first language. The motivation was to build some form handlers for a web site I wanted to put together. From personal experience, I can say that Perl is very easy to pick up, you can start writing USEFUL programs almost immediately, the community support (here and on other sites) is outstanding, Perl is available on virtually every operating system/environment, the learning curve is shallow but VERY long (there's always One More Thing to pick up), and, as mentioned above, it's very forgiving.
Having said all of that, it IS a bit difficult to hop down to a low-level language. But, as you advance in Perl, you start moving closer and closer to C, object-oriented programming, attributes, etc. etc. etc.
Most texts try to introduce you to Perl as if you are coming from a different language. I would like to see some texts going the other way!