For part 3 of this mini-epic, here’s Chris Mears’ take on the previous articles, posted on his own blog. Apologies, Chris, as I’ve just lifted your comments from your re-blog. (I am never quite sure where copyright starts on a blog – I assume a long attributed quote is OK, even if any permission is retrospective!)
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.
Chris highlights the essential point here – yes model railroading is ‘fun’ but the word ‘fun’ doesn’t go deep enough in describing our hobby. ‘Deeply satisfying’ would seem to be one possible phrase to do the job – but this isn’t much of a catch phrase! (And I can add a number of rather negative activities that might be described as ‘deeply satisfying’ – but won’t in case of offending my more sensitive readers – perhaps one might start with ‘ethnic cleansing is deeply satisfying’.)