Saturday, July 27, 2019

Tibetan Sand Mandalas, Model Railroading and the Transitory Nature of Life (and Layouts)

First load in the garbage bin.

Back in 2009, when I was still building the M & M Sub., I got to thinking about the impermanence of all things—like layouts.

Specifically, I wrote about Tibetan sand mandalas and model railroads, and what they have in common.

Sand mandalas come from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Monks and devotees spend weeks or months creating them, making amazingly intricate images out of millions of grains of coloured sand.

When done, the mandala is admired and then ceremonially destroyed—swept away to symbolize the transitory and impermanent nature of material life.

Just like a model railroad.

A sand mandala.

In my case, the ceremony, such as it was, was a quiet final run on the layout (after having some friends over for a final time).

And then the dismantling began.

As I wrote back then, and am living now, a model railroad will not last forever. That includes the M & M Sub., which looks so permanent.

But with time, and taking out a lot of screws, it will be gone.

And that, not to sound all eastern and mystical, is the way of all life, and of all model railroads.

And even though I knew the M & M Sub. would one day end up as a pile of lumber on the floor, I wasn’t deterred.

Like monks making a sand mandala, I happily and carefully laid track, ballasted, planted trees, erected buildings and so many other things that gave me joy and a sense of accomplishment.

And now, the layout will soon be completely gone. I will mourn its loss. But I will also remember the times spent building it, and running trains.

And learning anew a lesson or two about the transitory nature of life.

No comments:

Post a Comment