Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Tibetan Prayer Wheels and Model Railroading, and a Life in Boxes

A couple of random thoughts following last weekend's Manitoba Mega Train show . . . .

A Life in Boxes

Next to me at the show was my friend Marvin Fetch. He was selling another estate, this time that of long-time local model railroader Bill Morrison.

Bill, who died last April, amassed an enormous collection of model railroad items--over 200 passenger cars and over 1,000 freight cars, along with many locomotives. 

There were so many boxes at the sale that Marvin couldn't put everything out all at once; he was constantly going behind or underneath the tables looking for things.

Not to get too philosophical or anything, but as I watched Bill's cherished collection being sold, I had to think: This is how it often ends. 

During our lives we accumulate locomotives, cars and other things for our layouts then, one day, when we die, it's all in boxes at a train show.

Bill's widow, Anne, was fortunate to have someone like Marv to come along to help her sell his trains. It was a huge task, going through his stuff; not everyone is so lucky.

As for me, I have created a list of all my trains, with suggested prices, and have asked a friend to sell them for me should I pass away before I can do it myself. It's the least I can do for my family, to make things easier for them.
Oh, and if that happens, I could be like my friend Harold Weston, who left a parting gift for those who had the sad task of tearing down his layout after his death. 

When they took down the mountain scene that dominated his O scale pike, they found a hidden bottle of fine whiskey with a note. 

The note said that if someone was reading it, that meant Harold was dead, and thanks for helping to take down the layout--and please have a toast for and on him. 
Tibetan Prayer Wheels and Model Railroads
As I have written on this blog, I built the N scale Thompson River Canyon layout in memory of my brother-in-law, Ken Epp. I unveiled the layout at last weekend's show.
As I watched the train go around and around (and around and around again), I felt a sense of peace. There was almost a spiritual quality to it, a settling of the soul as I watched the train pass by. It almost made me wonder if it could be a meditative practice.
And that made me think of Tibetan Buddhist prayer wheels. Adherents of this religion place a prayer inside these hand-held instruments, which have a weight attached with a chain. They then twirl them around. Each time the wheel turns, the prayer inside is believed to be prayed.
Since the layout was in memory of my brother-in-law, I got to wondering if it couldn't also be seen as a form or prayer (especially if I was a Tibetan Buddhist).
By my calculations, the train went around the loop of track over 1,900 times in the two days. If it was a model railroad prayer wheel, that would be a lot of prayers for Ken!
(Speaking of Tibetan Buddhism, check out my post about how a model railroad is like a Tibetan sand mandala.)

Anyway, those were some of the thoughts that came to me at the train show, and as I watched the train go around and around, and as I watched Bill's lifetime of collecting be sold piece by piece.

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