I enjoy the way in which Mike Cougill thinks about the hobby. I envy his willingness to ask not only good but seemingly new questions and I completely agree so many of his viewpoints. As rich as his questions were it was Simon’s really terrific blog post, which I’m sharing here, that I found really focused my attention on the original twenty questions and my response to them.
We spend a lot of time trying to justify our involvement in model railways to those outside the hobby. These models we build are amazing works of engineering and of art. They are something to be proud of and the time invested in them was wisely spent not just for the satisfaction of a model’s completion but for the growth we triggered in ourselves as we honed the craft of the hobby and our mastery of its skills. It disappoints me when we reduce all of this work down to something as flippant as “Model railroading is fun” or quip that we don’t really take it seriously. What’s so wrong with discussing the hobby maturely? The trains are only the muse, it’s our reactions that inspire these great discussions and those are great intellectual pursuits.
It’s not that model railroading isn’t fun but we’re really selling ourselves short by always returning to that point. Further, we’re promoting the idea of how trivial this all is but not sharing the true depth of satisfaction one can derive.
My friend Mike Cougill has made a few posts recently about model railroading and “fun”. He even went so far as to pose 20 questions on the subject. As he has recently revealed, these reflect his self-questionning, and he has answered some of the questions. I had a problem with the questions, as Mike had (intentionally, I am sure) left out any sort of definition as to what fun might mean. It got me thinking – I am sure that getting people thinking was Mike’s aim. It usually is.
“Fun” is an interesting word. Originally the way to have fun was to play a trick, hoax, etc on someone – so fun came at another’s expense (for example, the bawdy and riotous story “Tom Jones” treats it this way). Definitions change over time (awful used to be a major compliment!) but the element of spontaneity…
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