When our kids are small we teach them how to cross the road and especially we teach them not to run across because they can get killed by a car. We watch over the food they eat, try to feed them plenty of vegetables and fruit. Warn them of all the common dangers. And we do our best to keep ourselves healthy too. We go to the gym, we jog, we apply tons of sunblocker and try to watch what we eat.
So why is it that some people like to do dangerous things, like walking across the Grand Canyon on a tightrope? Or swimming from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage? Is this something heroic? Something to be applauded? I don't think so. Suppose I meet someone at a party and all they can tell me is they swam across a huge expanse of water, let's say the English Channel or whatever, just because they'd always wanted to do that. I'd be inclined to ask if they didn't have a big enough swimming pool locally. Am I dense? I really don't see the point. If one of my kids ever said they'd like to walk the Sahara barefoot, I'd be inclined to slap them around the ear - metaphorically speaking, I hasten to point out. I would think they were deficient in appreciating the normal pleasures of life. Sure, there are a few things I'd have liked to do. When I was a teen I thought being a bullfighter would be really sexy - yeah, my brain developed a bit since then - and I thought driving a Ferrari around a Formula One racetrack or exploring the Amazon jungle to mention only a few would all have been a big adventure. But did I make any of it the main aim of my life? No, I most certainly did not - those low-hanging cherries on life's little tree were just as exciting even if more commonplace.
Bob Geldorf, bless him, will be travelling into space on a commercial flight in 2014. This is something I can understand. If you've seen everything that the planet earth has to offer then by all means get into your spacesuit. And what a conversation opener at that party. "Seen anyone you know up there, Bob?"