Play, Story, and Motorcycles: A Conversation with John Eldredge

On this week’s podcast, Dan sits down for a conversation with his long-time friend, John Eldredge, a prolific author—including The Sacred Romance, The Journey of Desire, and Wild at Heart—and founder of Ransomed Heart Ministries. Dan and John recently completed a three-day training course in preparation for an upcoming 10-day motorcycle adventure through the backcountry of Colorado.

John: “I tend to jump off of cliffs and then ask if that was a good thing to do, sort of mid-fall. So for me this was a discipline: Let’s be reasonable. We can’t just take these bikes and go romping off into the backcountry. Let’s go get some skills.”

As they reflect on the difficulty of the training—picking up 450-pound bikes, panic stops on gravel, stalling on a hill, running in ruts—and their anticipation of the upcoming adventure, Dan and John discuss the nature of play. Can something that is exhausting, terrifying, and dangerous still be considered play? “It was playful torture,” jokes Dan. “The course covered every form of motorcycling I have never done after 18 years of being a motorcyclist.”

The conversation turns from play to the importance of living and telling meaningful stories—a theme for the upcoming trip. Dan and John discuss the need to approach a story with both intention and openness, and they reflect on the crucial roles that anticipation and remembrance both play in forming a meaningful story.

John: “If God is not central to this, we’re cooked. You can’t just go out with a group of people and undertake an adventure of this scope and magnitude […] on a lark. That kind of storylessness is the very sort of thing we’re trying to address in people’s lives.”

The motorcycle trip will be documented in a series of short films, similar to a Moab adventure that John and his sons took last year. The project is intended to inspire others to dare to tell bold, beautiful stories with their lives.

John: “Story is very hip. Everybody’s talking about story. But very few people are actually living consciously in a story. Very few are thinking of their lives as a story. As culturally cool as story has become, that’s why we’re doing this film series—very few people think about story clearly. Or live in it.”

If this conversation intrigues you, stay tuned to The Allender Center Podcast as, next week, Dan begins a series reflecting on the nature of play. And in case you missed it, we did a whole series about story earlier this year.