Trinkets, ornaments and other knick-knacks… Interesting, but not interesting enough. I wouldn’t buy anything from here, so why bother?

That’s what I thought when I wandered into Smits and Bits, a quaint little antique shop set in the heart of Sassafras.

As I turned on my heels, preparing to leave, a firm hand clasped down on my shoulder and I found myself looking directly into a set of grey eyes framed with laugh lines. They belong to a man who is probably in his fifties, although the twinkle in his eyes make him look so much younger.

Before I could say anything, he asked amusedly, “Were you gonna walk out of there after just one glance?”

This must be the shop owner, I thought. As I fumbled around for something to say, I became embarrassingly aware of what my actions were silently saying: that I found his shop boring. Yikes.

“What’s the rush? You’re here to relax. If you wanted to go shopping, you could’ve gone to Chadstone, no? So walk back in there, take a look around, and enjoy yourself…”

Mind you, I don’t blindly follow orders, but damn. Good. Point. So I laughingly agreed and turned back towards the shop.

The first thing I saw is a chocolate bar labelled “I’m so vegan I don’t even call my partner ‘honey’.” And turns out the shop had lots of equally fun and quirky stuff. Not necessarily stuff I’d buy, but for a few moments, I got lost in the sea of trinkets.

This wouldn’t have been possible if I had an agenda; because even though I claimed to be ‘exploring’ the area, I was actually looking for things that matched my expectations. I wasn’t open to new experiences — I was filtering out predictable ones. In my quest to escape the city and ‘unstick’ myself, I was putting too much blame on my external world, when really the real issue lies in my habituation. I was looking without seeing and that’s precisely how I turned a shop full of eccentric treasures into a boring pit stop.

I didn’t leave the shop empty-handed though. “Pick your favourite scent,” the shop owner gestured towards a shelf full of handmade soap bars. “A gift from me to you, as a thank you for giving me your time and not asking me to jump into the lake for being so obnoxious.”

The thing is, I didn’t know that there was a lake nearby.

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