I finished reading “Patterns of Software” by Richard P. Gabriel. In my last post, I wrote a short review of it but I had only read part of the book. I wasn’t planning on writing any more but I came across this quote which I found interesting:
I started in 1955 in the first grade, spent six years at Merrimac Elementary School, six years at Pentucket Regional High School (including seventh and eighth grades), five years at Northeastern University, one year at MIT, two years at the University of Illinois, and five years at Stanford, and when I finished it was 1981, I had been married and was on the way to divorce; and I had a two-year-old son. […] I started a young boy and ended near middle age. When I was but a few years into this trek, they told me that I was part of the future and whatever I needed to be a productive member of society was the most important thing of all. And when I finished about to realize that all-important productivity, my son’s future became most important and I was secondary. When was my time? I’d spent 25 years preparing, only to turn to prepare the next generation. No one told me that what I was preparing to do was to prepare someone else.
Even though I waited until I was into my thirties to have kids, this story struck home. I also spent the first 25 years of my life preparing to be self-sufficient. Then I worked a couple of years to put a down payment on a house. Then, rather than being important and changing the world, I had kids and then they became the most important thing. The point of my life then became to prepare my kids for the real world.
In some ways it is sad–when you become a parent it can feel like you don’t have much time to shine for yourself. On the other hand, it’s not like most of the software we write lives for very long. Most software just lives a couple of years before it is forgotten.