Permanent?

Tim Hortons is an outrageously successful chain of coffee shops in Canada.  The country’s caffeine needs are covered coast to coast with approximately 5000 outlets.  I can vaguely remember when there were no Tims but that was in the ancient era of teenage life.  If a town has four shops, it’s a good guess that a fifth is coming soon.

I was driving down Highbury Avenue in London this afternoon, approaching Hamilton Road.  As I slowed for a red light, I glanced to my left to see … a derelict Tims.  The familiar reddish brown brick was still there, and the high oval sign out front, but the “Tim Hortons” on the vinyl above the brick was a shadow of its former self, and the ovals were merely full of air.  Beige curtains fell down the many windows.  And weeds were taking over the parking lot.

I gaped for as long as the light was red.  This did not compute.  A Canadian icon had died a ghastly death, and my stomach churned.  Somehow our national identity felt wounded and a fear bubbled up that it could all come to an end.  “Because of a coffee shop?  Get a grip, Bruce!  Drive ten blocks and you’ll find a thriving Tims.”

As Scarlet slowly left the scene of the crime, I reflected on permanence, and how I dearly love to hold on.  The inner voice says I need safety, predictability and stationary happiness.  Hmm.  Not too likely.

1.  Bruce remembers names.  Bruce remembers everyone’s name.  Except now I don’t.  People I talked to three weeks ago are often a mystery when they reappear in my life.

2.  Bruce is a master of words.  He has such a wide vocabulary, don’t you know?  Except I now struggle mightily with the names of … containers.  I’ll look at an object sitting there on a shelf or on the floor and no descriptive label will enter my brain.  (Okay, now I’ve looked it up on Google!)  Is it a bowl, a basket, a can, a bottle, a tub, a bucket, a jar, a pail, a vat?  I don’t know!  In polite conversation, I retreat to “container”, unbeknownst to my companion of the moment.

3.   Bruce drives so well, including at night.  Ha!  Not a chance anymore after dark.  That’s when I have to concentrate so hard.  And during the day, the time is long gone when I can pass someone in moderate traffic.  I have trouble judging distance and speed.

4.  Bruce loves playing famous golf courses on the computer, creating works of art called batik, and running 10k races.  Okay, but those were much earlier versions of this man.  How did those passions float away?

All this brings me to the present moment.  What I love right now seems so solid: my work in the Evolutionary Collective; my travels to Belgium and Senegal, New York and San Francisco; my red-walled home in Belmont, Ontario; my Wednesday evenings at the Acoustic Spotlight folk music club.  Could it be that they too may crumble away into the past?

And then the ultimate:  Bruce Kerr was a boy and now is a man.  That too goes poof!  A world without me.  Maybe no me at all, anywhere.

As Bob Dylan sang …

As the present now
Will later be past
The order is rapidly fadin’
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’

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