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Narrative: Dan Eldon - Safari As A Way Of Life

A story is not a mere body of information to be dissected, remembered and regurgitated; it is a model for thinking about living. (Brian Alger, The Experience Designer)

One of the key aspects of experience design is the tension between how we have been living our lives versus how we want to be living our lives. Part of what it means to learn is intimately connected is the growing awareness of this tension between what we are and what we want to be. An important way that we increase our awareness of life is through the narratives of remarkable lives. This is one of the reasons why learning can never be reduced to mere subjects, topics and categories.

When I first glanced through the book Dan Eldon: The Art Of Life I was immediately struck by the power of his narrative. For me, Danís life captures the essential ideas of what experience design can be and is symbolized by his lifelong theme of safari as a way of life. I was also asking myself the question, What does this mean for my own life?

Safari is about constant play, constant curiosity, constant resourcefulness. Itís a perspective on life, a life lived in eternal exploration. (Dan Eldon)

We donít learn stories by merely reading them; we learn stories by recreating them in relation to our own lives. In doing so we are inspired to change. Danís interface with life was his constant desire to seek out experiences, or as Joseph Campbell has aptly said, Itís important to live life with the experience, and therefore the knowledge, of its mystery and your own mysteryÖ The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.

Dan Eldon was an experience designer. He built an interface with living that was highly interactive. He experienced many successes and setbacks. Experience design is not always a comfortable thing. At times it can even be unsafe as the tragedy of Danís short yet full life reveals. Experience design can take us to the crossroads of what we know and what we have yet to discover in deeply personal ways. Somewhere lurking in the experiences of Danís life is one possible definition for learning. The challenge is not to turn the value of his life into an armchair education.

How does the narrative of Dan Eldonís life change what you might do in your own life?

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It is such a pleasure to see a comment here - my thanks to you.

To live life with more courage and love - this is the energy that drives the narratives that matter the most. For me, a model of living such as the one Dan has given us matters the most. It is in a place like this that I believe we see and feel the real essence of learning (and so much more) start to emerge and it is only through the lives of exceptional people that we can begin to fully appreciate what learning can be for each and every one of us.

Dan Eldon's story is one that every school should strive to inspire students with. It's real, it's tangible and it's the most practical kind of "expertise" there is. He is, what Jospeh Campbell would refer to as, a hero... and our society is in desperate need of new heros.

Well said. "Meeting" Dan through his journals, photographs, art, words, and through the stories shared by those who were fortunate to meet him, was an experience in itself for me. Dan's life was extraordinary, expanding beyond boudaries to connect, on a profound level, with others as well as mine. How does the narrative of Dan Eldon's life change what I might do in my own life? Perhaps to live it with more courage and love.

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