This summer, with protests suddenly a health risk and governments swamped with demands from all sectors, Matt has been looking for a new way to make change. The idea he has hit upon is the very micro-level of daily life. Not unlike our Low-Carbon Luxury series, his new project — Treasure Map — explores ways to make your life better by getting more out of less. Although there is one discussion of the emotional impact climate change, in connection with other struggles and suffering in the world, this project puts sustainability in the background and focuses on habits and perspectives that will help you maximize your satisfaction. You can read more below or follow the project on twitter.
Treasure Map: A Guide to the Riches Hiding in Plain Sight isn’t physically a book. It’s cover is actually an envelope. Tearing it open reveals nine slender booklets, each of which is a guided walk that you can take in your own neighbourhood. Surrounding the booklets are a letter of introduction, a one-page guide to where and how to read the booklets as well as other paraphernalia like a memento card to be coloured in and a postcard to be mailed.
When Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was released, people were ready to learn about themselves and the world by travelling far and wide. Today, because of the global pandemic, we must all learn to Be Where We Are (as one of the booklets advises). Each of the nine walks visits or passes through a generic site, ordinary places like a favourite tree or a busy intersection which exist in the millions and too often go unnoticed. Each booklet has a different theme, pairing the walk with reflections and activities designed to help the reader appreciate those blessings which are already close at hand. For example, after examining how rituals are able to sanctify moments of daily life, the booklet on personal rituals will ask the reader to find a jar and fill it day-by-day with good memories, so that they can open it on New Year’s Eve and recall all the pleasures of the past year.
The booklet, walk and activity format nudges people towards actually doing those simple, restorative practices – deep breathing for example – which too easily fall to the wayside in our frenetic world. Treasure Map is a self-help book, but not one that promises to fix everything with ‘one weird trick.’ Instead it helps readers make a habit of properly appreciating life. In and around these activities, Treasure Map’s text makes brief forays into diverse topics – from peripheral vision to the connection between modes of transport and neighbourhood social networks to Michel de Certeau’s metaphor for reading (poaching in the King’s Woods). Each little twist is a stitch tying the reader more closely to the profound riches of simply living and breathing on this beautiful planet.
I’m currently seeking an agent or publisher for this project while also exploring self-publishing or perhaps putting it out as a series of podcasts. Would you like to listen to this? Receive it in the mail? Let me know.