I don't know where to begin. Not so long ago, I wrote a post about letterboxing, where you go out in the woods on a sort of treasure hunt. But there's not any real treasure at the end, just sort of virtual treasure in that you found the hidden thing and put it back where you found it, but since you know you found it that's your reward.
In response, YourFireAnt commented that "There's a book, filled with lots of things like this, published in '79, called 'Water In The Lake' by Kenneth Maue". So, because I always check out suggestions, I looked it up, and was intrigued enough to buy one from Alibris, because it's out of print.
And it is one of the most peculiarly wonderful things I've encountered in a long time. I read a good chunk of it the other afternoon, curled up in the living room with a glass of wine. Then I wandered into the kitchen and read bits aloud to my husband. I thought about buying a copy for countless different friends.
The exercise titled "Remedies for Minor Nonspecific Ailments of the Soul" was where he got his hooks into me. One frequently needs to remedy a minor nonspecific ailment of the soul; here are some of Maue's suggestions:
- Go to a department store and buy the smallest item they sell.
- Find out how blimps got to be called blimps.
- Make a list of every vegetable you can think of. Tear the paper into tiny shreds. Put the shreds in a pan of water and boil for ten minutes.
- Play the piano with the back of your head only.
- Tie together two parked cars with some thread.
- Read a weekly news magazine. When you finish, cut out one article that especially interests you and tape it to the backside of a picture hanging on your wall.
- Put a book in your freezer and leave it there.
Some of the book is "exercises" meant for an individual; some of it is odd and ephemeral things to do as a group; and most of it is whimsy made tangible, if impractical.
Buy a share of stock on the New York Stock Exchange. ON the days when the price goes up, eat beets, radishes, and turnips. On the days when the price goes down, eat toast, rolls, and marmalade. Continue for three months. Then go to a laboratory and have your blood tested. Send the results to the president of the company in which you own stock.
All in all, it's kind of mind-opening in an offbeat, acid-casualty way. Continue until you are finished, then end.