Dancing in Nirvana

By Mike Johnson

It was our familiar dance.
I was having a nice moment with a 1960’s pinball machine.
Margie was on the other end of the store ogling an ancient display case as a possible TV table.
Both imaged those items in our house. Both realized they wouldn’t fit in.

Collectible shops are free entertainment. “Collectible” is our preferred descriptor nailing the sweet spot between antique and junk.

It’s not the things, it’s the memories the things conjure. First, you’re thrown back in time by the smell. The proper product mix naturally oozes a rich bouquet of musty attraction. Then the venerable displays pull you in, colors and shapes capturing your attention like an Eskimo Pie on a summer day. The ambiance is completed with cherished oldies playing from vintage radios. It's a pleasant nirvana.

Our favorite shops rent booths to individual vendors so there is a fresh eclectic mix every ten feet.

One of my favorite booths is pictured. Used books only attract the most serious of shoppers. With thousands of more exciting selections everywhere, it takes disciplined focus to narrow down to individual bindings.

But there’s always hidden treasure. The trick is to focus closely but not rigidly. Now the title can leap off the spine into your awareness, surprising you at its perfection without the launch of any specific search.

Shops always carry the home field advantage of individual attention. When you focus on one thing, its appeal grows exponentially. Once home, it’s lost in the clutter of everything else competing for our attention. This is proven by shelves of how-to books that never manifest into well-done completion.

But the shopping puts you into the heavenly nirvana of nostalgic memory, imagination and possibility, cuddled by the thrill of hunting for treasure.

On this day, there was nothing we couldn't live without. We left the shop empty-handed.

But our minds were full. Our conversation animated.

We were both still dancing in nirvana.


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