How a 350-Year-Old Wine Maker Improves My Running

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My spiritual advisor on this venture: Michel Montaigne, aka Michel Eyquem, sixteenth-century lord of the manor of Montaigne, Dordogne. His collected essays make the best medicine for our troubled times. And if you haven’t read Sarah Bakewell's great bestselling book on Montaigne, How to Live?, do it now. You’ll meet the greatest virtual dinner--or running--companion. Here are some the many things I love about Montaigne:

  1. He was the first writer to publish a bestseller through obsessive self-observation. And make it funny instead of self-serving. Do you know how hard that is?
  2. His family’s estate continues to make some of the finest wines in the world--wines known for their longevity. You can shove a bottle from the Chateau d’Yquem into your wine cellar for a century or more, and then your only problem is living long enough to drink it. Pretty meaningful for a Time Barrier project, right? (I ate tonight in a great restaurant in Cambridge, MA. And had an actual glass of wine, even though I'm not drinking. On the dessert menu was a sauterne from the Chateau d'Yquem. Only $395 a bottle. I didn't order it, because I'm not drinking.)
  3. His dad did intensity workouts in the early 1500s. And Michel himself thought like a trail runner. He believed in “skimming lightly over the surface of life.” Trail runner! 
  4. He thought like an aging runner. “I try to arrest the speed of [life’s] flight by the speed with which I graze it,” he said. 
  5. He was educated in rhetoric and once talked his way out of a kidnapping. Who needs guns when you’re a badass like Montaigne?
  6. He coined the term “essay” for the genre of short, personal pieces. To essay forth means to go on an adventure. An essay can also be an experiment.
  7. Your body may be a temple. My body is an essay. It's far from finished. 
  8. While the deep thinkers of his time pondered how to die well, Montaigne focused on living well. “Dying,” he said, “will take care of itself.” 
  9. If it weren’t for Montaigne, I would have given up on the Time Barrier. 
  10. He’s the funniest, freshest writer of the Renaissance. Or just about any time. Breathe him in. He’s oxygen. I’m going to Montaigne-dope before I run up the mountain. It’s like blood-doping, only more invigorating.