As we all know, a bucket list is a list of activities someone wants to do before they "kick the bucket," namely die.
The term has become familiar with people, especially older people, thanks to "The Bucket List," a 2007 American comedy-drama movie starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, the main plot of which follows two terminally ill men on a road trip with a wish list of things to do before they kick the bucket.
They go skydiving, drive a Shelby Mustang, fly over the North Pole, eat dinner at Chevre d'Or in France, visit and praise the beauty and history of the Taj Majal in India, ride motorcycles on the Great Wall of China, attend a lion safari in Tanzania and visit the base of Mt. Everest in Nepal.
A similar 2013 U.S. film, "Last Vegas," also portrays a sort of bucket list of four childhood friends from Brooklyn, New York, living in their senior years, during their "last" fabulous trip to Las Vegas, starring Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman and Kevin Kline.
What a fantastic bucket list!
In reality, it must be almost impossible for ordinary people to translate into action the things on such bucket lists. Such things may be nothing but illusive dreams.
What, though, are your dreams that can come true, something that you could put on your bucket list?
The core of the bucket list, needless to say, is the timing for putting what you want to do into action.
Namely, we should do it before it is too late. But it really is easier said than done.
A prominent senior citizen I know used to say jokingly, "It's now or never." Of course, he did not mean the Elvis Presley version of "O Sole Mio."
He said, "Do what you want to do before you become too weak physically to do it. The timing is not important. If you cannot do it right now, be sure to keep in mind that it is better for you to do it late than never. Namely, better late than never."
Indeed, doing something late is better than not doing it at all.
A recent cable TV reality show has lived up to what this idiom teaches.
"Ggoboda Halbae" or "Grandpas over Flowers," airing on tvN throughout last year, was a travel-reality show starring four veteran actors in their 70s ― Lee Soon-jae, then 79, Shin Gu, 78, Park Geun-hyung, 75, and Baek Il-seob, 71 ― as they went on a backpacking tour to overseas destinations such as Greece and Spain alongside actor Lee Seo-jin, 44.
The reality show became a cultural phenomenon, receiving high ratings for a Korean cable program and spawning numerous spinoffs. It also greatly contributed to the tourism industry of such European countries by Koreans.
The point of the show was "better late than never" as the aging grandpas embark on their long journey.
The popularity of the reality show featuring the "late braveness" of grandpas spread to the United States and elsewhere around the world, as seen in the NBC production of a reality-travel show series, "Better Late Than Never," an adaption of the Korean show, to be aired soon.
For reference, the cast includes four "seasoned" American celebrities ― William Shatner, 85, Henry Winkler, 70, George Foreman, 67, and Terry Bradshaw, 67, accompanied by younger comedian Jeff Dye, 33.
Like the Korean series, the NBC show features the four celebrities backpacking through Asia without luxuries, experiencing new cultures and checking them off their bucket lists.
In our daily living, there are many things that are better for us to do even late rather than not doing them at all.
I think that on top of the list of the things can be quitting smoking. The world is getting smaller for smokers and tobacco prices are ever going up to discourage the deadly habit.
Almost all smokers know that smoking causes 100 harmful effects and not a single good thing, doing much more harm than good. But many of them still light up after numerous failed attempts to quit.
If you want to stop smoking for your health, for your family and for non-smokers too, do it now. I quit smoking in 1989 after 23 years of "addiction" and have been tremendously successful right up to today.
But as far as quitting smoking is concerned, not late but earlier is better.
Learning foreign languages is also a common dream of middle-aged people that can be included on their bucket lists.
I used to be asked by my friends, readers of The Korea Times and students about the royal road to speak and write English "well."
My answers were always the same: "There are absolutely no royal roads to learn English. If you want to do it, then do it right now and do not give up halfway through. It is never too late to do something."
Michael Jordan, the legend of the Chicago Bulls, remembers: "My father used to say that it's never too late to do anything you want to do. And you never know what you can accomplish until you try."
The American basketball player must have owed much of his great success to his father. Nothing is more cowardly than doing nothing on the excuse of "being too late."
However, earlier is better, if possible.
Park Moo-jong is The Korea Times advisor. He had served as the president-publisher of the nation's oldest English daily from 2004 to 2014 after he had worked as a reporter since 1974. He can be reached at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.