Are you old enough to remember getting a big Sears Roebuck catalogue in the mail?

This afternoon I went down to the Sears store in Quakerbridge Mall in Lawrence, NJ.  I had to return a Lands End item that didn’t fit.  It was a sad sight.  The Quakerbridge Sears store is one of 48 that will be closed next month, one of three in New Jersey.  Everything to be sold.  All sales final.  Even the fixtures.

There were large areas of the store that had been emptied of all merchandise.  The few customers were picking through bins of remnant clothes.  The appliance section, where we bought the washer and dryer that served our house in Griggstown for 12 years, still had a fair number of refrigerators, stoves, and washer-dryer sets.  A salesman was haggling with a woman who was picking through a pile of large area rugs across from the appliances.  The automotive section where I’d bought tires a number of times was dark and locked up.  My Craftsman tools were nowhere in sight.

I will always be grateful to Sears Roebuck for the urban planning scholarship that helped me through my first two years of graduate school.  I will always have fond memories of browsing the large catalogues that my Mom got in the mail when I was a kid, and from which we shopped as young marrieds.

The last catalogue went out in 1993, and now the whole operation is slowly withering away.

The Buddha teaches that impermanence is one of the three characteristics of existence.  When he was dying, he told his disciple Ananda something that has given me comfort and strength since the first time I read it ten years ago.

Enough, Ananda, do not weep and wail! Have I not already told you that all things that are pleasant and delightful are changeable, subject to separation and beoming other? So how could it be Ananda—since whatever is born, become, compounded is subject to decay—how could it be that it should not pass away?

But I’m like Ananda.  I still feel sad when things pass out of my life.  Even though I probably had not been in this Sears for at least five years, it still had played a role in my life in central Jersey.  Another reminder that things will never be the same.




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