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Lynn Hummel column: The before the bucket list

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There is a recent movie titled "The Bucket List" that folks seem to be enjoying a great deal. I haven't seen it, but what I've heard is that it's about two old geezers, played by Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, both of whom have serious (maybe terminal, I'm not sure) health problems who get together and make a list of things they'd like to do before they kick the bucket. So what they do is skydive from airplanes and all the other brave, daring and macho things men (young and old) would like to do. That's all I know about it.

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Last week in a locker room I heard a kid, about 17, telling his friend about "The Bucket List." He said it was a terrific movie -- one that "changed my life." That's a pretty dramatic statement for a 17-year-old kid. I saw him again the following day and told him I'd heard what he said to his friend. Then I asked him if he was making a list of his own. After all, if you're only 17 and you have 60-70 more years of achievement and adventure ahead of you, you could make a pretty long list -- leave nothing out. He said he was thinking about it. Then after a thoughtful pause, he said one thing on his list would probably be "dunking" a basketball. That's right, a slam dunk. He's about 6 feet tall, but his limit at present is that he can almost touch the rim. The difference between almost touching the rim and dunking the basketball is a huge difference, but I'm sure he'll do it. However, you can't wait until you're 75 to do a dunk. You have to get that trick achieved before the age of 30.

I got to thinking about my own bucket list the other day, and decided that before I go jumping out of airplanes or attempting to climb Mt. Everest, there are other items that should be taken care of first. After all, not only is it impossible to dance with the stars without a few dance lessons, it is also impossible to paddle a canoe around the world if you've left the bath water running at home.

What this means for most of us, I'm sure, is that there needs to be a "Before the Bucket List" of things that must be done before leaving for Mexico to dive off cliffs. For me, this means the number one before-the-bucket task would be cleaning the garage.

You've heard about how thousands of mothers tell their kids to wear clean underwear "in case you're in an accident." For the same reason, I'd have to clean the garage before I left home for the rodeo circuit -- in case I'm in an accident.

I wouldn't want anybody seeing that garage any more than I'd want them seeing my dirty underwear.

I have an idea that when Jack Nicholson left for his bucket adventures, there was a sink full of dirty dishes and a disaster area of clutter and unfinished business left behind. Now if I were running out to wrestle crocodiles in the Amazon, there are a few items to fix before the bucket list so I could enjoy the bucket: life insurance policies, a will, bills paid, car service, crocodile vaccination, things generally in order. You can't make a movie out of my list, but if you survive the bucket list, it's more likely you'd be welcomed with open arms on your return home.

There's more. There's preparation. If you want to be able to run with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain, you need to assure yourself you can run faster than a bull. That may involve some serious road work and training. Training? That makes the bucket list sound just a bit less exciting, doesn't it? Or if you want to do some bullfighting in Spain, it will probably take more than a red cape or you could find yourself on the horns of a dilemma.

If you decide you'd like to set a new altitude record in a hot air balloon, you can't wait until you're carrying your own little oxygen tank down on earth. Too late, too late.

So if you're serious about your own bucket list, don't wait until there's no more spring in your springs. The list would have to be short and soft at that point. Do what the 19 year old kid is doing -- start early, leave nothing off and add as you go along. Slam dunk.

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