Zen and the art of model-railroading

Ross Balderson’s award-winning N-gauge layout of 1958 Sydney Central Station (click to enlarge)

I can’t remember what started it all, but during 1999-2000 I became very interested in model-railroading. I didn’t get around to doing any modeling myself, and for various reasons I went on the other things, but for a few months back then I regularly bought copies of magazines like Model Railroader and went to several exhibitions within and without Sydney.

I especially liked going to exhibitions – and partly because I traveled by train to most of them. Apart from walking, trains are my favourite mode of transport – they’re very relaxing and there’s always something to see going past.

Watching model trains going around is also very calming.

And many of the finely-detailed layouts are masterpieces to behold.

Recently, a Facebook friend posted a flier for The 48th Sydney Model Railway Exhibition in Liverpool, on the south-west edge of Sydney. Seeing that flier prompted a lot of pleasant memories, and recently I’d been spending too much time alone at home, so I decided to go and invited a friend.

The exhibition was great fun. My friend and I spent about two hours checking out everything there, from award-winning layouts like Ross Balderson’s N-gauge 1958 Sydney Central Station (pictured above), to a large diorama constructed out of Lego that included a Stargate with a returning SG-team, to reprints of old technical manuals for sale (I didn’t buy any, but for a technical writer like myself it was very interesting to see the styles of manuals past).

But not only did I rediscover the pleasures of visiting exhibitions, the experiences of the past few years living with depression also gave me new ways to appreciate model-railroading.

Firstly, I’ve already mentioned how watching model trains go around is very peaceful and relaxing, and now I enjoy that serenity even more.

Secondly, I now have a greater appreciation of the joys of constructing dioramas – the patience they both demand and provide, the focus they require, the wide array of craftsmanship and skills they encourage, and the overall joy they give from using your hands to create something out of nothing. Indeed, that reinforces two of the major themes of Robert M. Pirsig’s classic book Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance – the importance of quality, and always doing the best work that you can.

Finally, there’s the social aspect. I enjoyed the atmosphere of the exhibition, with like-minded folks of all ages coming together to share a common love – but not only has it encouraged me to look into model-railroading again, it has also highlighted the advantages and importance of getting involved with others.

As I went around the exhibition, I picked up any flier that announced upcoming exhibitions and invitations to attend meetings and open days held by the various clubs. That night when I got home, I went online to research how to get to them – and, yes, most of them can be easily reached by train.

I’m already looking forward to going to the next exhibition 🙂

Before I end this post, another word about Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance. Just before I went to the exhibition, I enjoyed reading a recent book about Pirsig’s classic that also provoked a lot of thought – and that experience may be the subject of my next post.

Until then, stay well and take care 🙂

About blackandblueman

Black and Blue Man lives in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
This entry was posted in Happiness, Life Strategies, My Story. Bookmark the permalink.

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