Not less than 30 minutes ago, I found myself approaching the counter of a Starbucks in a cute historic town in colonial Pennsylvania.
As I walked up to the counter, the barista, suddenly exclaimed,
“Oh my gosh, I love your outfit! Simple but so unique. It’s so great!”
In that moment, what went through my mind as a possible response, wasn’t a “thank you”, but rather, I planned to give her a detailed explanation of everything about my outfit - where I got the jeans, how much I love white tank tops and that my bracelet was made of seeds I strung myself.
I loved my outfit, too, and secretly, I was just waiting for the chance to exclaim it to the world.
Much of what I own, I love. In fact, I have a rule now - if I don’t absolutely love it, it has to go. And this applies to my clothing, my furniture, my books and all of my possessions.
When many people pass away, much of what they have loved, stayed behind on earth.
Yet, they still identify with it and love it just the same. People, as a whole, create an identity with many of the things they surround themselves with. I identified with my simple yet unique outfit. I felt it matched my personality and I was really excited someone else found beauty in what I also found beauty in - a white tank top and jeans.
Antique stores are filled with well-loved and often, ‘I identified-with that’ belongings.
The books, the furniture, the light fixtures, the clothing and the household goods have all been loved by at least three different people.
1. The original maker
2. The original owner
3. The acquisitions agent for the store you stand in
If an object has had more owners, that accounts for more lovers, admirers and serious fans of any one thing you walk by in any given store. And by the very nature of Antique stores selling old goods, there are old people there, where some of these people, are now dead and without a physical body. But that doesn’t mean they stop loving.
Imagine this scenario.
Rather than a Starbucks, this afternoon, you go to an antique book sale.
At this sale, are hundreds, if not thousands of books that have been acquired from various estate sales (complete house sales of the deceased), yard sales (partial house sales of the living), and private collections.
You are in a place, where the release of well-loved goods is actively happening.
Now imagine, that instead of a shopper of this antique book sale, you are a dead person, who once owned and loved the very book you are now holding in your hands. Sure you have family to visit, and life lessons to learn, but sometimes, it’s nice to take a break from all that and just cruise around.
The book that has just caught your eye, is a book that changed someone’s life. In fact, they also gave this book as a graduation present to their granddaughter, in hopes it would change her life, too. In hopes, they would have a common ground to bond over - this book. But, rather than reading this gifted book, the granddaughter, put it away in a box and eventually, when she died, she donated it to the local library. The library sold the collection to a antique book show.
Here you are. You, passing by this book, are unexplainably drawn to purchase it. You don’t know why, you don’t know what it is, you just know, that you have to leave with this book. It’s only a $1, anyway. Who cares, you tell yourself, if I don’t read it, at least it will look great on my shelf.
A few days pass, a few weeks pass and what do you know, weird things start happening in your house. The lights flicker. The TV starts to act funny. You start to feel something strange and buzzy all around you. And all you can think is,
Wait a minute, is this old book haunted?
Stop it right there.
The real question to ask is,
Is there someone present who cares about this book as much as I do and wants to see it valued?
Because that’s what’s really going on.
When you walk into an Antique Store, yes, there are Spirits there. You could call them ghosts. But they aren’t haunting the place.
Spirits at Antique stores are hoping for one of two outcomes:
1. To assure their well-loved belongings go into the hands of someone who will love them too
2. Like me at Starbucks today, they’re waiting for the first opportunity for someone to come along, express a love for what they love, so they can excitedly someone all about it
If you took a book home, and weird stuff starts happening, maybe someone really wants you to read it. To value it. To give it some attention. If you pass by a beautiful old night stand and feel something buzzy, maybe someone wants to tell you something about it you don’t know, but maybe you should.
For example, when the barista complimented my jeans today, I was burning with the desire to tell her something she didn’t know about them, but I thought she should - that they were $35 on sale at Macy’s and she could get herself the same pair, if she acted fast enough.
In Antique Stores, sometimes when you wonder about an old piece of furniture, it’s not just the store attendants who are nearby willing to tell you about the history of a particular piece. Sometimes, it’s the piece’s original owners, too. The owners who, may or may not be deceased.
Don’t they have something better to do?
I ask myself this question every time my significant other follows me around the house, as I admire his well-loved and cared for houseplant collection. Doesn’t he have something else he should be doing right now? Doesn’t he have some sort of work he should be getting to? When he follows me around, as I admire his house plant collection, is he haunting me?
You could say that. Or you could say that he’s just enjoying his opportunity to be around someone who loves what he loves and excited for the opportunity to share that love with someone.
Maybe he does have something ‘better’ to do - but for a few moments of existing as a soul, isn’t kinda nice just to hang out with people who are into what you’re into? Isn’t it kinda refreshing to just be in the places where you can meet others who value what you value?
This is what’s happening in Antique Stores most of the time.
Rather than a bunch of haunted pieces of furniture, you simply have a gathering of enthusiasts - both dead and alive. Which is why, the energy in an Antique Store often feels like a Spirit is there - buzzy, pressure, dense, hard to breath - because there’s probably a few. And the more excited people you have in one place, the more the space just seems to hum.
There are well-meaning, caring and compassionate dead people that hang out in Antique stores. They’re not all spooks. Just think of the type of living people you meet in them. Are there people who are obsessed with collectables sometimes? Where their whole life is dedicated to collecting, owning and possessing certain objects? Yea, sure, sometimes.
But for the most part, the people who visit Antique Stores are seeking beauty.
And, the Spirits you find there are often doing the same.
The next time you’re visiting a place with objects, pieces or clothing once owned by others, with a chance these things have been once owned by the now deceased, rather than asking yourself,
Is it haunted?
Is it well-loved?
And if you sense there might be a Spirit around it, either hoping their books go to a good home or wanting to communicate in enthusiasm with you everything they know about it, simply acknowledge this individual and just say,
Thank you, for caring so much about this. It’s in good hands now.