Yesterday the chief gardener and myself shared a strawberry.
Just a single strawberry picked fresh from a hanging basket on the verandah.
It looked so lonely hiding under the leaves just above the potting mix.
A tiny, brilliant burst of fire under a blanket of greenery, it was begging to be noticed like a dancer at a party of accountants.
Anyway, the chief gardener plucked it and we ate it together, pressing our lips over the soft flesh and meeting in the middle for the bite. It was the only one, and so it was worth savouring.
It tasted like the first sweet kiss of childhood, fresh yet just at the edge of remembered experience. Almost gone but not quite. It was thrilling, intoxicating, vitalising and electric all at once.
It made me think of Ruth Ward with the ruby lips, skinny scuffed legs and auburn pony-tail that always ended up in unruly strands after a school day of buffeting seaside winds.
We kissed one day after school under the pier while the tide was out. After 55 years I don’t remember the story that led to the kiss, but I do remember it tasted sweet and salty and thrilling.
All this from a strawberry.
Later, I heard a woman speaking on the radio about how she likes to remember and record one uplifting human experience from the previous day. It could be something as simple as watching a leaf blow in the wind, or a smile from a stranger.
Then I read the piece in this week’s News on Shepparton’s Scott Keating and his battle with anger and depression. He said part of his return to a healthy state of mind involved surrounding himself with positive thoughts.
It’s a simple, yet powerful, insight.
Just like healthy food which nourishes our bodies, positive life-affirming thoughts are nourishing food for the mind.
I’m not a clinical psychologist, and there are undoubtedly plenty of unfortunate souls beyond the help of facile advice to “think positively”.
But as an everyday mental activity, collecting positive experiences must surely be a healthy one, akin to a daily walk.
So I’ve started a list.
So far I have: strawberry kiss; raven on the fence pole eating a fallen mandarin; skin shock of a late afternoon pool dip at 35°C; squeals of water-bombing children skimming the shimmering surface of Victoria Park Lake; three of us on the couch for the final late-night binge of Anne with an E on Netflix. The stifle of a tear because I’m still a bloke.
Nothing remarkable — but that’s just five days’ worth.
Wait until I have 365 of them.
There’s got to be a self-help book in there.
John Lewis is a journalist at The News.