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Zen and the art of Perl

by Zecho (Hermit)
on Oct 24, 2001 at 18:35 UTC ( #121123=perlmeditation: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Have you ever been there? Silently sitting watching a movie perhaps. Perhaps laying down for the night. When all of a sudden there's a spark, a sudden rush of calming white noise and the overwhelming sense that says "Ah!". You smile, comforted in the fact that all of the fear, uncertainty, and doubt has silently been transformed into something more organized. You finally "Get it". Everything comes together and the swirling sinking sensation has been replaced by smooth forward motion. Yes many of us have been there. It's a wonderful feeling.

I recently have had this experience of enlightenment concerning perl for the second time. The second however was "Ah, I don't get it... but I now know why." Followed by the calming rush, the soothing feeling that told me that even though I hadn't become one with perl, I knew which mountain to climb and which path to take to get to the top.

I suppose when I finally climb this mountain, Larry will be there solemnly coding away on perl 7+, and will simply look at me and smile, and say "Things have changed, read Randal's column about it. "

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Re: Zen and the art of Perl
by CubicSpline (Friar) on Oct 25, 2001 at 01:16 UTC
    You describe this phenomena quite well, Zecho. I'm certain that most everyone has felt this way before.

    But life in the monastery, and life in general, does not bring wisdom to the lowly monk solely through thoughtful meditation, but also through communicating and communing with fellow sisters and brothers.

    I have been scrabbling away at a project for a couple of weeks now (VC++, not perl) and had thought I was nearly finished, when I was rudely introduced to the fact that I didn't know what the hell I was really doing. It took me many days to work up the courage to ask my senior (and much more daunting) developers for help. But when I did they happily spent time with me and showed me that I did know what I was doing and that I was only missing a small piece to finish off the puzzle. What a revelation that I'm not sure I would have EVER figured out!

    I think it's important that we, as monks, realize that though we like to struggle with puzzles and challenges alone (for therein lies the ultimate sense of accomplishment) valuable knowledge may also be gained from communicating with our fellow monks. I hope that when a brother or sister approaches me for help that I can remember the dignity and grace I was shown in my own quest for knowledge.

Re: Zen and the art of Perl
by iakobski (Pilgrim) on Oct 24, 2001 at 19:21 UTC
    Ah yes.

    The wise monk always knows less than the foolish monk.

    This is because the wise monk knows how much he doesn't know.

    -- iakobski

Re: Zen and the art of Perl
by drewbie (Chaplain) on Oct 25, 2001 at 05:44 UTC
    I know exactly what you mean Zecho. My first time was with references, can you believe it? :-) There was something keeping me from groking it. I just couldn't put my finger on it. Then someone was explaining it to me and that last piece of the puzzle finally clicked into place and the lightbulb went off! At that point, it all made sense. I've been happily using references ever since.

    My point is that this experience is part of what makes perl so desirable to me. With perl, there seems to be a tremendous desire to help people learn. It manifests itself through many ways: the CB, IRC, FTF conversations with friends/collegues, conferences, or books. I feel like people want me to understand. This is A Good Thing(tm). I imagine the same thing exists for other languages, but I speak only of my personal experience.

    I have gathered a tremendous amount of knowledge by lurking on mailing lists, reading books, examining other's code, and going to user groups. In return, I feel a need to give back to the community that helped me grow from a HTML novice to a good perl programmer over the years.

    IMHO, this is the essence of perl. Contribute back to the ones that helped you. CPAN is an excellent example of this. If I want sessions for my web app, I don't have to reinvent the wheel every time. I just use Apache::Session, and whisper a "Thank you" to Jeffrey Baker et al. for making it available. I imagine this sort of scenario happens on a daily basis around the world.

    So the next time that light goes on, be sure to say thanks to whoever or whatever helped you gain that insight. Pass on that warm fuzzy feeling to someone else. And in the process you'll become better yourself.

Re: Zen and the art of Perl
by sifukurt (Hermit) on Oct 25, 2001 at 19:10 UTC
    Great description. I vividly remember the moment that I started to get a handle on regular expressions. I swear there was an almost audible click and suddenly I understood what 5 minutes ago I did not. I was so excited I wanted to stop people on the street I didn't even know and tell them "I can actually write a useful regular expression!" I ended up deciding against that, though. I probably would have gotten smacked. Or arrested. Or both.

    In a way, it reminds me of the sort of thing I've run into very frequently when I'm wearing my martial artist hat. There is so much that is out there to know, that the more I learn, the more I find out I don't know. It keeps you humble.

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