Sacred Cows and Stressed Farmers

Several things have happened over the last few months that gave me pause. Pause is a great time to practice mindfulness.

A few days ago, Les Paul left us. Walter Cronkite too. I was laid off from my job, and I got an exciting opportunity presented to me. Change has been pretty rampant. However the curious case of a hacker named _why has hit me closest to home.

tumblr_kon03ndTxn1qzln4lo1_400 Just yesterday _why left us. All of his digital presence is gone. Code, Writing, Songs, Chunky Bacon. “But, wait, who is _why, and why do we care about _why?” you ask.

Well, I guess you are not a rubyist. He was one of three luminaries in the community, and one of the reasons that many of us got involved. He wrote the greatest programming book ever (with a sound track!), and coined “Chunky Bacon”. DHH gave us “and, Woops” and matz the language itself. But _why gave us the quirky character. The oddness. The wonder and joy. Being ok to look at some code and go “wow, that’s cool” with a childlike glint in our eyes.

One day the Buddha was sitting in the wood with thirty or forty monks. They had an excellent lunch and they were enjoying the company of each other. There was a farmer passing by and the farmer was very unhappy. He asked the Buddha and the monks whether they had seen his cows passing by. The Buddha said they had not seen any cows passing by.

The farmer said, “Monks, I’m so unhappy. I have twelve cows and I don’t know why they all ran away. I have also a few acres of a sesame seed plantation and the insects have eaten up everything. I suffer so much I think I am going to kill myself.

Will he come back? Who knows.

His exit has caused quite a stir in the Ruby community. But can the Ruby community really be defined by one, two or three people?

I’d say no. _why gave us a wonderful sense of joy and childlike zeal to the community. Just because _why left, why do we need to loose that? After all, _why was a character in all of the definitions of the word.

I’d also like to take a second to lay to rest a misconception. _why does not owe anyone anything. Did any of us pay him for ongoing support? We befriended a character, and that character’s story is over. Do Sam Spade and Luke Skywalker owe us anything? No. It’s silly to even think like that.

The Buddha said, “My friend, we have not seen any cows passing by here. You might like to look for them in the other direction.”

So the farmer thanked him and ran away, and the Buddha turned to his monks and said, “My dear friends, you are the happiest people in the world. You don’t have any cows to lose. If you have too many cows to take care of, you will be very busy.

“That is why, in order to be happy, you have to learn the art of cow releasing (laughter). You release the cows one by one. In the beginning you thought that those cows were essential to your happiness, and you tried to get more and more cows. But now you realize that cows are not really conditions for your happiness; they constitute an obstacle for your happiness. That is why you are determined to release your cows.”

So, _why, thank you. If you ever need anything, you know where we are. We love you. Have a good journey.

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