I was talking to a friend recently about how to get more ‘raspberry moments’ into our lives. I had just come back from a whirlwind week in Germany (I know, lucky me, right?) and part of the tales I had to share was one glorious sunny day spent in Nuremburg, in the old city, sketching, wandering through the marketplace, enjoying the bright blue European summer sky, and buying and then demolishing a punnet of raspberries (these very ones pictured above). I tried to convey how simple it was but how each raspberry tasted like it was bursting with essential raspberry-ness in my mouth, a complex, rich array of flavours that I had never fully appreciated. I wandered around the city with my friend, feeling happy, with raspberries on the tips of my fingers, eating one at a time with delight. (Have you eaten them like this – poking your finger into the hole, holding them up on your finger like a hat to admire it, and then piping your finger into your mouth? So childlike and so fun).
I am not an expert on how to create these. As far as I can tell, they come and go like butterflies, and trying to grab at them when they arrive makes them flutter away nervously to another garden.
I know that some things help create the basic conditions for these moments to show up in. For me that’s having had enough sleep, being well fed and watered, not being exhausted from prolonged stress, having a patch of time without competing agendas that send my brain into busy problem solving mode, and having a general sense of looking forward to something or of being excited by the moment. A sense of the new, and of curiosity and exploration helps, but also a sense of spaciousness in time and place, nothing to hurry for, nothing to ‘achieve’. It probably also helps when I’m feeling relatively psychologically ‘clean’ and not carrying a current burden of guilt or shame, or a story about my life or day that is burdening me.
This is a similar but slightly different feeling to the one I often get when I am lost in being engaged in something creative, like sitting at my desk making artworks using crayon and lost in the physicality of texture, colour, the feeling on my fingers etc (let’s call it a crayon moment*). In crayon moments/ flow I feel like I am pointed towards something, I am engrossed, I lose myself and lose track of time, I am captured in delight, but there is an end point, a little striving to begin with that helps push me into this zone. A raspberry moment on the other hand feels a bit more expansive and related to the senses for me: seeing the colours and new shapes around me, tasting the fruit, feeling the warmth of the air on my skin, hearing language that ripples over me because it isn’t one I speak. It is also about what is going on in my head: appreciating the light, and enjoying the easy company, revelling in the underlying feeling of wonder and accomplishment I had for being so far from home on an adventure, and feeling relief and the gentle free-fall of being safe and not knowing things and that being OK.
Someone once gave me a magnet for my fridge that said ‘plant a green tree and one day a singing bird will come’ or something like that. I think it’s a great perspective – inviting us to reflect on what is growing and lush and fresh in our lives, because this is what draws in what we would like to have visit us.
If I was working with a coaching client who wanted to get more of this type of feeling into their lives, I would probably suggest doing some detective work together to see what types of situations or experiences they have found engaging, expansive or fun in the past. Maybe we would do a guided visualisation and take them there to recall the feelings, the sounds, the people around, the ideas, their thoughts of themselves in that moment. Maybe this would help them remember in their body what that feels like. Maybe it would establish a gentle question mark, unanswered, for those memories and past experiences to drift to the surface over the days that follow. This kind of work could give some clues to the types of ‘artist dates’ they could take themselves on in future, to feed their creative well. And in all this, we would work to try too unhook the expectation from the experiment – so that these gentle acts of creating space, of pursuing delight would be free from self judgement if they did not yield butterflies or singing birds.
* though Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi would probably call it flow