*In the movie Dead Poets Society, John Keating (Robin Williams) describes "professions" as 'noble pursuits, and necessary to sustain life. These notes are to appraise those pursuits. And in this season of Olympics, it is only appropriate to start with this one.
Athletes. One of the curious professions I've ever encountered. That it is a profession eludes me. One, it doesn't require mysterious skills. Two, all they do is perform from one competition to the next, between which they make another obsessive preparation. On their triumph, we curiously reward them with medals. I think we revere them because we think of them as delegates of our species. We assign them to take up crazy physical and mental challenges. They muscle out, react, cope with pains, adapt, strategize. They are the symbols of how far we can push our humanly limits. We live vicariously through them, too, thinking that if they can win those challenges, we can, too (at least in part).