I did something really special yesterday. I went to a model contest sponsored by our local Hobby store. It only had one problem: not enough people were partaking in what was truly a special event. This may be partially because this store only recently opened, but I can tell you that it's also a result of the way our society has been developing. I think that a lot of people have lost sight of the value of hobbies. This has been a trend of the arts in general. It is said that if you want to make millions, don't study art... I think that you'll probably find that the happiest millionaires do have some background with art, whether it be paintings, literature, music or otherwise. This argument not withstanding, let me return to the hobby show...
I met people of all ages and all kinds of backgrounds. All had one thing in common: a passion about what they had made. I'm not saying they all believed that their works were masterpieces, nor is that so important. They all derived enjoyment from the things that they made or did and, interestingly, how the things that they made gave them a way to express to others what is interesting about things that they are passionate about. Theses things included airplanes, horses, tractor trailer trucks, tanks, boats, Legos (very sophisticated), and other things. Some things were perfect, and I mean really impressive, dioramas of real situations. Some were figments of the imagination. All were done with care.
I feel like one of the “old people” making models, having now made them for 50 years. I got to meet others with a lot of model making experience and that experience showed. For me, this is equivalent to other professionals acquiring study credits to maintain their expertise. It is like attending a seminar, providing opportunities to see how others have solved problems or come up with a new idea. For those who have made models for a while, you'll understand what I mean when someone surprises you with something humorous just for those who know it when they see it. Some of the model makers may not be the best model makers, per se, but what makes their models special is what they put into them insofar as details because they understand the thing they are modeling so well.
One of the gentlemen that I spoke with had a lot to say about art in model making. We both concurred that it is helpful if you are able to see things in the formations of clouds and that it is probable that most model makers and artists do so routinely. What is so great about this? It's an exercise in imagination. It's the ability to see forms. It's part of what I call “shapeology”.
I come away both happy and sad. I'm sad, because when I was young, hobbies were encouraged. A good hobby is akin to eating what's good for you except that what you are eating tastes wonderful. Hobbies are good for you. You exercise your imagination. You learn skills. You develop expertise. In our current times, time is swallowed up by things that may or may not have lasting value. Hobbies are a way of entertaining oneself. Now, we often simply seek to be entertained. Hobbies are also social. They may involve some mentoring, from a parent or friend. Often an older family member passes to those of a younger generation things passed to them from previous generations. At events such as these, peers compete on a friendly level, learning how to clearly discern differences in the quality and accuracy of what they create and how to further refine their own abilities. These are skills that they can later use to compete in the world on ability, rather than on aggressiveness. Many life long friendships have developed through sharing hobbies. Many of the best memories we have involve time spent on hobbies with a grandparent.
A lot of things in the passing of time within societies tend to be cyclical. My gut feeling is that sooner or later, hobbies will become more popular than they are now. They may not be the hobbies that I enjoy, but that doesn't matter. Let me postulate my thoughts on what I like in a hobby. It must be enjoyable. It seems to me that the passion of it correlates with the challenge within it. Those things that are a greater test of oneself are the ones that tend to have a bit of obsession about them. We'll see what time brings...
I encourage you to plan a visit your local hobby store and see what they have that might interest you. Make sure that you really look around. I bet that you'll be pleasantly surprised.