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A Map of Souls - 
The Quest for Love's True Story

Publishing 2024!

A Map of Souls takes readers on a remarkable 100,000-mile journey by Harley from homeless shelters to the halls of academia, seeking love’s story in the hearts of extraordinary people, through the eyes of diverse cultures, and in the minds of leading thinkers from religion, history, and the arts to quantum physics and neuroscience. The adventure brings astonishing hope and an understanding of something people universally treasure and believe they know when they see it, yet for which there has been no universal explanation or definition. With an explorer’s heart, A Map of Souls reveals the interconnected story of love’s origin, nature, and meaning and what living that story means for our lives, times, and world.


Preface to A Map of Souls


Preface - 

by Scotte Burns


Why can’t human beings universally define what they say is the most fundamental and essential aspect of their lives - something everyone knows when they see it? How is it that we can spend so much time, energy, and emotion trying to fathom, find, and express something that we desire and treasure above all else and yet have it remain a mysterious something that everyone wants and shares without being able to tell one another what it is definitively? 

Apparently, love is easy. Defining it, understanding it, explaining your feelings about it, knowing where and how to find it, nurturing it, sharing it, and figuring out what all that means can be hard. Yet, some folks make it look easy. They must have a secret. If only they would share that secret, or we could somehow find that magic cipher for ourselves, it would all make sense, and we could get about the business of loving and being loved without all the pain, contortions, loneliness, frustration, and guesswork. We’d know who and what we love for certain, why we do it, how to do it better, and what purpose it all serves. At least, that’s what many people seem to hope and believe. 

And that’s a curious thing because in those timeless moments when we aren’t agonizing over it and are just letting it be, love is the most effortless, natural element of who and what we are. Misting up when we first gaze into the eyes of our babies, hearts beating together with a kiss, embracing friends in the laughing joy of meeting after too long apart, seeing a beloved creation come to life, the feeling of belonging in special places, and a hand laid on the shoulder of a suffering stranger are all spontaneous expressions of the love within us. None of them demand justification, deliberation, or explanation. And still, many of us desperately seek some Big Secret or Ten Easy Steps to reveal this thing that is already inside all of us, everywhere, all the time. 

My wife, Toni, and I grew fascinated with this obsession over The Big Secret of Love as our years together matured and people began asking us for ours. Having devoted various eras of our lives to shared experiences in the performing arts, the music business, and other circles in which lifelong, loving relationships are, if not exactly rare, are at least noteworthy, we’d become accustomed to that curiosity. But as our days together turned into decades and our first half-century of union is now on the horizon, people have grown downright bold in asking us about this Big Secret we must surely have. They always seem so hopeful that we might answer them with something pithy and actionable and so unsatisfied when we tell them instead that there is no magical kung fu to loving one another, no five easy steps, no epiphany - which is wonderful because it means that we’re all free to choose our own ways to love and live and to find meaning in both. 

Perhaps surprisingly, teaching science and English to teenagers for a quarter-century offers me some unique insight into why folks don’t like that answer. When we can choose from anything at all, it’s harder to make a choice, especially when we’re young. It’s so much easier just to be told what to do and then be able to complain about it afterward, as needed. Freedom sucks sometimes, and it’s always a lot of work. But the more prodding Toni and I took about The Secret, the more we wondered over the many answers there must be and the diversity of their expressions. So, we did the obvious thing. 

We climbed onto a couple of Harleys and blew through the vast fortune I had amassed as an English and science teacher by riding out to as many varied people, places, faiths, lifestyles, and cultures as we could find for a project we named Journeys to Love, exploring love’s origin, nature, and purpose. Forty-eight states, several years, and 100,000 miles later, we’ve discovered things about love ranging from the touching to the profound, as well as scores of stories that have been funny, heartbreaking, inspiring, and unexpected. Conversations with leading hearts and minds in science, faith, philosophy, psychology, media, and the arts have followed those journeys. Combining the wisdom - and yes, the love - of all the stories and people with all that research has revealed a remarkable answer to our Big Question, “What is love?” That insight leads directly to what each of us might do with such a revelation, particularly in a world and era in which love and the hope it promises seem to be in such short supply. 


Offering all of this to you is a journey in itself, one we’re delighted to have you join. Along the way, remember that just as any other “long riders” will tell you, the miles of a journey are just as - and often even more - important than its eventual destination. For the stuff that truly matters in life, “being there” has no real meaning without the story of “getting there.” And so, with gratitude for your riding along, we begin this shared journey to love with a pullover at the road’s first key mile marker, where Toni and I discover the right folks to ask about The Big Secret of Love, why there’s no such thing, and that the most extraordinary Journeys begin with the delight of knowing that you’ve no idea where the roads ahead will lead.

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