Driven

Only seconds after the opening kickoff, Tom went to ground clutching his knee and screaming. He had torn some cartilage; his season may have ended prematurely. Only minutes later, a shout came from the field, “don’t let the ambulance leave yet!” Richard had just taken a heavy tackle and was similarly left on the ground with an apparent knee injury. Evaluation later showed a broken tibia and two torn cruciate ligaments. He won’t be playing rugby for quite some time.

Mr. Bedford, the narrator of H. G. Wells’ The First Men in the Moon found himself in a similar situation. If any Earthly experience can be called “similar” to being stranded on the moon. (Aside from the fact that Tom, Richard and Bedford are all English,) what they have in common is that none of them was content “simply to go about being safe and comfortable and well fed and amused.” Something, it seems, “urges [man] for ever to depart from happiness and security, to toil, to place himself in danger, to risk even… death.” But what is this force that drives men to do “unreasonable things?”

In every action, man is making a bargain, and no man makes a bargain unless he has decided that he profits by it. That is not to say that he is always right, but life is a constant cost/benefit analysis. Bedford went to the moon because he saw the potential for great material wealth. He reasoned, perhaps not carefully enough, that the odds of becoming rich outweighed the odds of dying on some foreign world. Tom and Richard decided the reward of enjoying their physical prowess on the rugby pitch was worth the risk of injury that comes with such an endeavor.

Bedford says, “that all my life I had in truth never served the purposes of my private life.” But he is mistaken. He is not subject to some outside force that causes him to make choices to that serve its grand scheme. He only seems to be working against his own personal interest because he has proved to be a poor judge of what he really wants and what he really needs. If the risks were really greater than the potential rewards, he has only himself to blame for not analyzing them adequately beforehand.

Beer of the Week: Kunstmann Torobayo Pale Ale – Long before anybody was seriously thinking of setting off on dangerous trips to the moon, Europeans were setting off on dangerous trips to uncharted terrestrial worlds. Kunstmann may not seem like a Chilean name, but back in the middle of the 19th century, quite a few Germans immigrated to South America. And they brought beer brewing with them. This, my first ever Chilean beer, is a great take on the classic English pale ale. It is light amber in color and has an aroma of caramel and fruit with just a hit of fresh grass. The taste meets and exceeds expectations after the smell, with plenty of caramel flavor in the finish with just a small bite of hops. Really, a delightful beer.

Reading of the week: The First Men in the Moon, by H. G. Wells, Chapter 19, Excerpt – Lost and alone in a world altogether unlike his own, Mr. Bedford is given an opportunity to reflect on how and why he made the trip to the moon.

Question of the week: In Bedford’s case, the decision to go to the moon was primarily the potential for great wealth. It is easy to see the risk/reward analysis in such an endeavor. But others have sought out adventure seemingly for adventure’s sake. How does one assess the amount of risk that is reasonable if the reward is something as abstract as “adventure”?

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