This goes way beyond Faust.
Goethe's story revolves around the desire of all of us to taste greatness, if only for a moment. Life is fleeting, glory is fleeting, death awaits us all. Before we exit, we want to grab the brass ring just once. For that, we're willing to barter life itself.
What then to say about an athlete whose "moment" stretches from 2003 to 2010, and who shows nary a sign of let-down?
We all know that Federer's record of 23 straight majors semi-finals laps the previous record of 10, held by a few other players. Of those 23, count 15 triumphs, a 65 percent record, and a finals percentage of 87 percent. Mind-numbing.
This is like watching a movie over and over again of our favorite moment, wanting to freeze that time and place. But this movie is in real time, lasting now six and one-half years, and it just keeps on going.
It never gets old because like any classic, it changes, yet remains the same.
Its essentials endure: the personality, the talent, the shotmaking, the versatility, the grace.
Its drama and development keep it interesting: he cried when he won the first time; he wept when he lost to his greatest opponent. He had long hair and served and volleyed against his idol, now he plays almost the elder statesmen, the gentlemen king, to his challengers. Once a kid, now a father.
You only have to watch the woes of his foes, physical, in the case of Rafael Nadal, mental, in the case of Marat Safin, natural inconsistency in the case of pretty much all of the rest of the human species, to appreciate the extraordinary spectacle we see with this guy.
The one constant: the game, and the results. We should enjoy the history we're watching that he's making. It's not likely to happen again.