Seasons of Interest

I haven’t really been interested in railfanning for the past year or so. I’m not feeling it.

For someone who has been actively railfanning for over 20 years (yikes), it’s been more than a little unsettling to feel this way.

As I mentioned in my Let’s Talk post, I think I’m depressed. I am taking some medication, and I’ve been meeting with a counselor. She’s been great and has been helping me work through some stuff.

NBEC 1857 in Dalhousie, NB, May 1999
NBEC 1857 in Dalhousie, NB, May 1999

I brought this topic up with my counselor – not being interested in railfanning – and she came up with a term that really resonated with me.

After listening to my history of hobbies, from plastic models in my youth through being a ship geek, a plane geek and a space geek, through my SCA phase, and into my long railfanning hobby, she said that maybe I have seasons of interest, and that I’m moving on to a new season.

That phrase feels really right with me.

I’ve had various interests over my life – seasons of interest. Eventually my interest in a topic wanes, and I move on. This is natural.

Steve at Pennsic XX
Me at Pennsic XX

I was really involved in the Society for Creative Anachronism – the SCA – from 1988 to about 1998. My interest waned around the same time my first wife and I separated; it was a thing that we both did together, and after the separation it wasn’t fun any more. I half-heartedly went to a few events after 1998, but I wasn’t “into it” any more.

I distinctly remember going to my last event in Nova Scotia in 2000, and really wanting it to finish so I could go take pictures of the train tracks at Autoport in Dartmouth. That’s when I really knew I was becoming a train geek.

Oakville, MB, March 20, 2022
Oakville, MB, March 20, 2022

These days, I have little to no interest in going out to take photos of trains. Weeks pass without train photos. In fact, I lent my camera to a friend for a couple of weeks because he didn’t have his camera with him. I didn’t miss it.

I think my time of regular railfanning may be done.

That’s OK.

I’m still very interested in trains. I’ve been scanning my old negatives from the late 1990s and early 2000s and finding some real gems that I will be sharing.

I am still railfanning – occasionally. Expect to see a three part series soon featuring auroras and an orange locomotive.

I’ll close with a reminder to take care of your mental health. It’s just as important as your physical health, if not more. Seek out help if you can; help your friends and family if they’re struggling. Thank you.

17 thoughts on “Seasons of Interest”

  1. Bravo Steve for knowing when to see someone and for taking the courage too. If You need anyone to talk with, feel free to get ahold of me coffee is always on.

  2. It’s good that you were able to to talk to someone and deal with some things that may have been dragging you down. Hope things are getting better. I’m looking forward to more of your photos when you can share them.

  3. So pleased to hear that you sought third-party and professional advice, Steve. Life is to be enjoyed, especially in our discretionary activities where we’re not bound to obligations. When Judy passed in 2005, one of my best moves was to attend a group grief counselling session followed by one-on-one therapy. It restored my life and set me on a new, happy course.

    Similarly, in railfanning, my interests have changed from multi-day trips to enjoying the camaraderie of the local museum and indulging my memories of recalling and sometimes writing about happy trackside times. Life changes and we change, too. I sincerely hope that you find a happier place but keep in touch as you may wish.

    • Hi Bill. “Life is to be enjoyed” indeed.

      I’m glad you were able to find the assistance you needed to help cope with Judy’s passing. You seem happy now and I’m glad.

  4. Hi Steve,
    I’ve been a train buff going on 45 years now. Loosing interest is part of the natural process. I have a new friend who likes to travel and we’ve been doing some great trips over the past 3 years. Before I met him I didn’t get out chasing much. Also my interest changes. Whereas before I was totally focused on the final image, now I’m more interested in who I share the image taking with.

    • Hi Ian, I’m glad you enjoy railfanning with your friend. I am almost always solitary when I railfan, but I find I enjoy railfanning with others. Maybe it’s something I should seek out more!

      • My most memorable railfan trips have been in the company of friends both new and old. With the sameness of trains and the dearth of photo spots these days, the company and shared experiences are the best part by far.

  5. Hey Steve: I’m not sure how to respond via the typed word. I was going to go with “Join the crowd brother” but that does seem flippant now doesn’t it.
    I’ll say this “You’re not alone” Now isn’t that original. Jeez!
    I liked to say I had an answer better than those above but, I do give you credit for realizing and taking action in talking about it.
    These are indeed strange and stressful times and dare I say you might be normal.
    Since when can’t a person say enough when the pooh hits the fan. This whole forge ahead and suck it up stuff comes at great cost and it seems normal to have it cause issues eventually.
    You obviously have many interests and you take the time to share, perhaps it’s time for a new category. “You time” instead of always looking to do more, stop and look back and around and soak up everything you are and have been and relish in your accomplishments.
    I think the fancy word might be to take a “Sabbatical” from hobbies anyway. I always wondered if people get paid when they do that — Hmmm.
    I’ve been struggling with work-life balance for some time and quite frankly I’m about fed up with the work part. Jobs better than ever but the decades add up.
    I only mention it to say you have people who wonder what’s next and since I can’t figure out my own path I wonder why I’m typing away. 🙂
    I’ll close by saying I do appreciate your willingness to actively share all the many facets of your hobbies/interests.
    And one other thing, a few years ago I suddenly had a hankering to own a tractor and a piece of woodland. I don’t think I’ve ever even touched a tractor before so I knew I was in for some rough road ahead.
    Maybe I should pay attention to your photography tips and start taking photos of said tractors. or as a colleague of mine calls it “Farmer porn”. He to finds himself staring at tractors as he drives around the countryside.
    I have no idea what this has to do with your mental health. Jeez again!
    Anyway take care, I believe you’ll find your way out the other side. bigger, better, brighter, and on terms that fit you.

    All the best, Another Steve

    • Hi “Another Steve” 🙂 I was smiling when I read your comment, because I’ve absolutely had times when I know what I want to say but I can’t find the right words to express it. I get what you’re saying.
      “Farmer porn” – heh. There are certainly groups of people who are interested in different types of machines. Trucks, tractors, combines, airplanes, tanks, ships, motorcycles, cars… and of course trains. The list goes on and on. I think we are all kids at heart and we like the vroom vroom.
      I find I can’t stop myself from talking about things like this, so I might as well write about them! I’m glad that my words resonate with some people.
      For me my work-life balance is better than it has been. There was a time a few years ago where I felt guilty when I wasn’t working, even when I’d put in a full day of work already. That didn’t feel good and I’m glad I moved on from that. We can only do so much and we need “down time” to do something that rejuvenates us.
      Thanks for the comment, and all the best for you.

  6. Hi Steve – Greetings from the EAST – I guess we all need a change in what we do from time to time – For years I spent a lot of time with restoration work which was rewarded when put into operating condition – however it wanes in time that now I do not have the energy to even carry out a simple job or lend my expertise to others – I have had to seek help and now have retired to the side lines and developed new interests – Stay healthy and enjoy life no matter what it may bring !

    • Hi Richard, we can only do what we can do. I and many others appreciate all the work you put into restoration; preserving and restoring the past so that others can appreciate it. It’s good work.
      I hope you have found other interests that stimulate you and keep you happy.

  7. Okay, so it’s not just me… I still have shots on my camera’s memory card from pre-pandemic. I can hear both the CN and the CP from my house and I Just. Don’t. Care. Since about 1979, railfanning was the #1 thing in my life, now it’s family, cycling, curling, reading (and counting the days until retirement). I’m still scanning slides and have several boxes of HO scale “retail therapy” on my desk, and am actively involved in some projects, but it’s no where near the priority it used to be. “Seasons of interest” – I’m so going to steal that!
    So glad you had the courage to seek out help when you recognized it. I think it’s high time I did the same…

    • Hi Dave, I guess I’m in good company! I definitely had photos sitting on my memory card for weeks and weeks – but not as long as you had.
      You’re definitely into cycling! Thanks for the inspiration to enter the 90 day challenge. It’s been fun so far… wait until it rains.
      Please do steal “seasons of interest”!
      I haven’t had much interest in my HO scale layout lately; my interest seems to come in waves. I’m OK with that!

  8. Hi Steve
    Like Bill I have gone through (and still am) grieving for my life partner but in the last six months have begun a new very happy relationship. This has meant far less time for rail activities but I still enjoy writing for CN LINES. I especially enjoying working on articles involving multiple contributors and seeing some of them come up with fantastic new articles themselves like what you and Bill have done in recent issues. Even as you move away from regular railfanning for however long, I hope you will continue to share your fine past work and enjoy new seasons in your life that bring you joy.
    Best Al

    • Hi Al, I really enjoyed contributing to your series on grain cars, and developing the map for Bill and Richard. This collaboration thing is great!
      Thank you for writing for CN LINES and maybe we’ll collaborate again in the future.

Comments are closed.