How do you choose?

Mojo not in good shape this week, so another interesting quote from Mike Cougill’s OST Blog….

How do you choose between two or more equally compelling options? That’s the situation a number of us will face at some point in this work. Two of my friends are dealing with this now and a third will soon.

I understand the frustration because I’ve experienced it myself many times. I like a lot of different subjects and find it hard to choose when I’m strongly drawn to more than one at a time….

The way we frame our choices exerts a lot of influence on the answers we ultimately get. I’ve noticed the tendency among many hobbyists to make things into an all or nothing scenario. It’s operations or model building, a big layout or small one, steam or diesel, this or that.

The first question that pops into my mind is why. Why do we do this? I understand limited resources of time, space and money. I understand the work involved and the commitment required. I also understand that nothing lasts forever and making a different choice is always an option. Are we so afraid of missing out that we’re paralyzed by indecisiveness? Is this the culture the you-can-have-it-all generic hobby has produced?

We love process. I’ve lost track of the number of list-making processes people have come up with that promise to end all your woes about track design, what to model, or some other choice we have to deal with. The dirty little secret is that if any one of them actually lived up to the hype, there wouldn’t be much need for any others. Of course, life isn’t that simple and neither are people…..

The choice that Craig and my other friends are wrestling with is very personal to each of them and the generic advice typically offered is beyond useless because it doesn’t touch the heart of the matter. Unless we know the person very well, how can we ever hope to offer real help? Furthermore, should we even offer to help? As I suggested in the last post, we all have a hard time seeing past our own filters and bias. My “advice” is little more than my opinion, and one opinion is as good or useless as the next.

I’ve hammered at this point before but offer it up again because I think it’s important to consider. We expect satisfaction in this craft to come from something outside. We expect to find the perfect layout plan, or that the latest toy will make us happy forever. We all know this is empty but we’re human. I’m no different than anyone else in this regard. What I’ve learned however is that genuine satisfaction with this craft comes from within. It comes from understanding what meaning the work has for me and pursuing that meaning to the fullest.

After forty years I prefer to dive more deeply into a few subjects rather than chase after a shallow involvement with many. Letting go of certain hobby related pipedreams was more liberating than I ever imagined it would be.

We each have to make a fundamental decision about what we want from this craft. No one can make this choice for us and god forbid you let somebody else make it for you. It’s your layout, your time, your money and your choice. I don’t know why anyone would want it any other way.

Your mileage will assuredly vary.

As ever, wise words.

About snitchthebudgie

Secretary of the East Surrey N Gauge railway club
This entry was posted in Inspiration, Jon's layout ramblings, Layout design and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to How do you choose?

  1. I agree that the solution must fit the problem (and the person). Forums can suggest wonderful solutions. However, I find my technical ability would be insufficient to complete many. Therefore, I have used solutions which many would sneer at but I am more than happy with and work perfectly well.


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