My final question: “After all the amazing variety of adventures, experiences, you’ve had, is there something that you regret, that you have not experienced?”
“You mean other than the Nobel Prize?” he says, half joking. (Not inconceivable—or undeserved.)
“Yes, there is,” he says. “Sometimes I see something that delights me and I say, I wish I’d been around early enough to enjoy that. And that’s kiteboarding.”
I left shortly thereafter, nodding goodbye to the whale skull and thinking, well, that speaks of a vast life, doesn’t it, if your only regret is missing kiteboarding?
“Once you’re gone, you’re gone,” Matthiessen said. But I think he’ll always be with us.

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