Why Should I Keep Modeling?

Modeling has been a lifelong passion—almost literally. I've been a modeler since the age of seven, and cannot imagine a time when I wouldn't be modeling... until now. Lately I've been tinkering with a silly project I undertook in order to get a childlike yen out of my system. It was also meant to keep me busy while I dealt with a bunch of depressing real life crap. But the silly project has instead been a growing source of frustration. If I cannot assemble old, dirt-simple plastic structure kits correctly, how could I possibly manage a large, realistic permanent home layout?

I've got to face the reality of my current station in life: I've lost it. That modeler I was a mere decade ago is gone. My vision is getting so bad that I cannot see small things properly even with magnification. I cannot hold my hands still, nor can I move them where they need to go, and sometimes they move randomly all on their own (I nearly cut off a finger because of this). I'm forced to stop modeling for periods of time while I wait for coughing fits to pass. Or painkillers to kick in. I can see exactly what I need to do in my mind's eye, yet I'm helpless to follow through. Is it any wonder why my storage space is full of half-built layouts? Inevitably I reach a point in every project where I simply cannot carry on.

A part of me wishes my mind was going, too; perhaps I'd be satisfied with far less. But I can't escape the sense of loss, of failure, of immense frustration at having my body betray me. I'm now on the verge of a meltdown not unlike the one I suffered back in 2000. I sense the urge to smash everything, to throw everything out, to utterly erase all traces of my modeling past, because those things no longer bring me pleasure; instead, all they do is remind me of what I've lost—my skills. My skills made it possible to succeed, to excel, to realize my visions, and sometimes even exceed them.

Friends and fellow modelers are quick to offer encouragement. "Don't give up," I can hear them say even before they say it. I should keep modeling, fight the urge to quit, work within my new limitations. But if modeling isn't bringing me joy anymore, why should I continue? Isn't that the single reason to model—to experience the satisfaction of accomplishment? "For enjoyment with everlasting challenge" was Model Railroader's mantra for many years, and for many years I grokked it.

I haven't quit yet. But I'm coming awfully close. If I can't find a new modeling angle that works, and soon, I'll be making a lot of trips to the local recycling center.

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