On motivation? I talk to myself.

In a couple of previous attempts I’ve posted some thoughts on what motivation means in contrast to inspiration. We don’t need to spend much time in any of our forums to see that word labelling someone’s work. While talking with James last week I mentioned my fascination with terms like these and how I wanted to keep exploring them. I think it’s a thing we should be talking about more and I hope he and I do just that in a future Hilton & Mears edit. “I think” terms like inspiration and motivation are points on a spectrum of emotional connection to our hobby. We carpet bomb forums with the word “inspiration” as a reaction to things that we connect with and that delight us but…

I see something beautiful and find it attractive. I like to think that, in the moments that follow, I would like to continue to observe that to enrich my memory of that thing. Action here is probably not much more than any attached to recording the feeling from that moment and the surprise registered in that spontaneous moment of discovery. It’s easy to know what a moment like this feels like because an example that readily comes to mind was that first time I ever saw Krista.

Is there any greater propellant in our hobby than nostalgia? So much of what we’re trying to do is part of pursuing nostalgia. Either we’re building models we couldn’t when we were younger or building models to use as a vehicle to transport ourselves back to a place we wished we could return to in real life and stay in for a while like a vacation from our current time. Sometimes we even adopt someone else’s experience and nostalgia as our own; building an interpretation of their story and diversifying nostalgia to be not only for our own work but as an agent of building community.

When I think of inspiration I think of something like jazz that reacts to someone else’s actions. Like any other form of conversation you did something and I replied this way. I think what fascinates me with inspiration versus motivation is that I think of inspiration as staying within that same medium. A recording made by one musician inspired by another–the difference being that you said and I did are both in music but in model railroading I saw a photo and replied with a model. Maybe it’s not so much a difference of two words not equalled by their use? That inspiration stimulated an emotional reaction in me but motivation was the machine that drove me to create a response.

In that way it seems funny to expect a book of track plans to inspire someone to create a model railroad (like how when someone posts in a forum looking for ideas for their shelf layout space) because what is needed is the motivation to try something. That the track plan or model kit is irrelevant because they need a fuel of energy to consume and propel them to divide plastic into shapes that they’ll reassemble into a new form or start to explore a found shelf space with model railroad track and plan the journey of an exciting new train. When we’re trying to get going what we need isn’t a trigger charged with inspiration but that conversion element from motivation.

Inside every model railroader is an unexplainable thing that attracts us to small trains. It’s difficult to understand why but it is nonetheless a real attribute of our individual design that we can’t easily transfer to any other modelmaking output–there’s just something about trains–nor can we gain that same sense of satisfaction from other applications for our creative energy. As a thing found in each of us I’d like to think of it as an energy. As an energy I wonder about its conversion. That desire to explore what it means to convert attraction to inspiration and then on to motivation is a paradigm that would help to understand more of who we are. Like how water alone doesn’t make a steam engine move, you need to heat it up, and pack it into a too small container–convert, convert, convert.

Categories: How I think

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