This is the first time I have had a man as a Friday Feature. After you come to know Claude Rollin, you’ll see why he was the perfect choice for a male role model who is making the most of life after 50.
I met Claude during breakfast in the small town of Talkeetna, Alaska. It was 9:00 a.m. and my friend Kathy and I had just arrived in town after taking a one hour bus ride from our secluded Mt. McKinley Princess Lodge. We had left our sleeping husbands behind and were out to discover the civilization nearest our hotel. On the way up, our bus driver had recommended the Talkeetna Roadhouse as the best place in town to have a tasty breakfast.
The Talkeetna Roadhouse was originally built in 1914 and was established as an official roadhouse in 1944. It had a long history of service to miners, trappers, railroad builders, climbers, and the pioneers who called Talkeetna home. It was adorable, having kept the tradition of family-style hospitality alive by offering cozy rooms and hearty food.
Tables were few in the restaurant so if you wanted to eat sooner than later, you had to share with other patrons. Kathy and I first sat down with a couple from the Dallas area, Jack and Laurie Kammerer who were visiting family in Anchorage and came to Talkeetna for a mini-vacation on their big vacation. We were soon joined by Claude and his son Josh and our table was complete.
While eating our delicious made-from-scratch breakfast, we enjoyed getting to know each other and hearing about each other’s Alaska adventures. It was during this friendly conversation that I learned that Claude and his son were from Maryland and had come to Alaska to fulfill one of Claude’s “bucket list” desires.(Sound familiar?) They had made their reservations for the trip through the Alaska Railroad. Starting out in Seward where they had seen “lots of wildlife,” they were en-route to Fairbanks. Their railway transportation was long and slow so they decided to stop in Talkeetna for a break. Then our conversation got really interesting when I inquired about Claude’s bucket list.
To me, it seems that ever since the movie The Bucket List with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman came out in 2007, the term “bucket list” has become overused ad nauseam. Usually, if I hear someone mention “bucket list,” I’ll lose interest or change subjects. But when Claude told me his bucket list story, he had my full attention and support:
About a year ago, Claude’s best friend passed away suddenly. This sad event got Claude thinking about his own life and what he wanted to accomplish. Up to that point, he had worked hard establishing himself as a successful investment and financial professional, working for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). But that success was all about work and supporting his family, not necessarily his personal goals for a rich and fulfilling life. So, six months ago, at age 51, Claude decided to create a bucket list; things he really had an interest in and wanted to accomplish during the rest of his life. What he came up with was a typewritten, 3-1/2 page list. The list is divided in to categories: Travel (places to go), Education (things he wants to learn), and Social ( ways to interact with new and different people like join a country club). Since his list is relatively new and evolving, he hasn’t had a chance to accomplish too much — yet. This trip to Alaska was the biggest item he has tackled so far. But he is determined to plow on through piece by piece what he has designated as enriching opportunities for his life. His forethought, sincerity, and dedication really impressed me.
What did I learn from this chance meeting with Claude?
1) Setting Goals (aka creating a bucket list) is important no matter what your age. It was goal setting that got me through college, getting married, raising a family, starting a career, developing hobbies, etc. Priorities change. Opportunities change. Circumstances change. But wanting an enriching and fulfilling life never changes.
2) Don’t be afraid to set high goals. I will never get to the moon if I simply shoot for the stars.
3) Spend time and careful thought in determining what to accomplish. Don’t just throw together a haphazard list of something that sounds good or that meets someone else’s criteria. What are my passions? What will broaden my horizon?
4) Write it down. A goal is just a dream if it isn’t written down. Look at it. Plan for it. Cross things off as they are accomplished. Reflect on how my life is different because I pursued that goal.
5) Take my list seriously. After spending all that time developing a list, don’t waste the effort. Plan what needs to be done to make the goals become a reality. Make the necessary sacrifices to be successful. See it through to the end.
6) One step at a time. Hearing about Claude’s extensive list was impressive and scary. He has set out quite a lengthy road map. But I need to remember: every journey begins with a first step, followed by another and another and another until the journey is through.
Who knows if I will ever pass through Talkeetna, Alaska again. One thing is for sure: I will never forget that on my first visit, that was the place I met and was inspired by Claude A Rollin, Esq.–a serious bucket list achiever.
Dare I ask….What’s on your bucket list?