Eyebrow

Goodbye 2011: It’s Time To Stop Plucking Our Eyebrows

Derek Everything Else, Personal Stuff 84 Comments

Eyebrow
The year that was 2011 was an odd one for me. There was certainly no shortage of traveling as I bounced around from Australia to Southeast Asia to Mexico to Eastern Europe to Turkey, back to the USA, to South Africa, and now, back to Romania over the past 12 months. But even with all of those interesting adventures, as the year reaches it’s end, I still find myself just a little bit confused as to the direction I’m actually heading in life.

In reality, I’m not too surprised by this confusion considering that the year 2011 presented one giant wollop of a challenge, the kind of challenge in which one thing after another seemed to go wrong or not work out as I had expected. This year saw a great deal of changed plans, some of which completely took me by surprise, as well as long-lasting periods of uncertainty, more than a handful of troubling moments and a higher than normal amount of utter confusion.

Hooray for all that.

And so, needless to say, as a result of this somewhat bizarre and difficult year, I’m ready for the New Year to begin. Perhaps on January 1st I will finally be able to clear my head and find some answers to some common questions, questions that I have been asking myself quite often as of late, questions such as ‘what’s the point of what I’m doing?’ and ‘what am I trying to accomplish?’.

WHY WAIT UNTIL NEXT YEAR?

Wandering Earl in the RainOf course, it would help to get a little head start and use the last couple of days of 2011 wisely. I guess there’s no point in waiting until after the New Year to begin figuring things out. And that’s why I think I’ll just go ahead with an idea that I thought of a few minutes ago, an idea that might prove to be beneficial and maybe even therapeutic.

I’m going to jot down all of the random thoughts that are currently mosh-pitting through my head in the hope that seeing such a list in front of me might help me sort through the muck and discover some answers.

I’m not overly confident that this will work, and I’m a bit nervous that the nonsense inside my head may scare a few of you away, but I’m willing to give it a try nonetheless.

Fifteen Minute Break…

Okay, I’ve now spent the past fifteen minutes contemplating my life and writing down every thought that entered my head. And here’s those very thoughts…

  • What on earth am I doing with my life? (A common one, I know.)
  • I really do enjoy eating soft cheese.
  • No matter what happens, I still feel most at peace when I think about packing one small backpack with a few possessions and just walking around the world, a thought that has been in my head for the past ten years.
  • Winter weather is not nearly as terrible as I once thought (it’s freezing in Bucharest now but miraculously I’m surviving.)
  • I want to be on television.
  • I’m starting to think that my musician friend who told me I could be a good singer if I took a few lessons was lying to me.
  • We should all be laughing at most of the things we get upset about.
  • As always, I would love to spend less time in front of my laptop.
  • I really hope that nobody ever greets me at an airport with kazoos.
  • I want to learn how to be an Wildlife Tracker in South Africa.
  • Wildlife Tracking, South Africa

  • Socotra Island is a must-visit for 2012.
  • Gladys Knight has a lovely voice.
  • I really don’t care too much about the main sights the world has to offer, preferring much more to go anywhere and meet new people.
  • I miss my afro.
  • Did I mention wanting to walk around the world?
  • Shaving my armpits is excellent, but why am I plucking my eyebrows as well?
  • When am I going to finally sit down and learn how to play the banjo?
  • I would love to show other people around India.
  • As I get older, good water pressure in the shower and comfortable pillows are becoming much more important to me.
  • Really, what am I trying to achieve with the blog and the traveling? What are my true goals with this lifestyle?
  • I miss Mitch Hedberg.
  • How do I help encourage more people to find a way to start traveling?
  • I think it’s time for a one month silent meditation retreat.
  • What happened to my goal of being a stand up comedian?
  • It’s a good thing that Italian guy who wanted to cut my head off with a machete on board a cruise ship never managed to get the machete or hunting knives he bought while in port on board the ship.
  • Sometimes, the way we humans spend our lives seems absurd and useless to me.
  • How can I use the knowledge I’ve learned over the years in a way that benefits as many people as possible?
  • I really need to update my music collection.
  • Istanbul might be my new favorite city on the planet.
  • I’m most content when laughing, being around close friends or meeting good people I never would have met had I never traveled.

Hagia Sofia, Istanbul
Well, there you go. And truthfully, now that I’ve read over that list a few times myself, I’ve unfortunately been left shaking my head, feeling even more confused than before. I even started feeling a little sad that my head is full of such stuff. Why am I thinking of Mitch Hedberg, soft cheese and my afro from 10 years ago at a time like this? I need some direction. 2012 is only a few days away. Oh my.

But wait. Wait just a minute. What about all of you? Surely most of you will be entering 2012 in a state of some confusion as well. Isn’t it natural around this time of year for all of us to question what we’re doing in life and what we truly want to achieve during our time on this planet?

Surely I can’t be alone.

So, maybe all of us need to spend the next few days wisely. Perhaps we should all stop procrastinating, we should all put down the tweezers and stop plucking our eyebrows for a moment or two.

Then, we should start thinking seriously about what we want out of life. Let us all create a list of our most important goals and then read that list over and over again until we realize that life is far too short to just plod along for yet another year without trying to achieve them.

I’m in. Who’s coming with me?

Alright! I’ll just assume that most of you raised your hand and, as a result, I now feel a little better knowing that we’re all in this together. We’re all a little confused (right?), but at the same time, we’re all determined to find our way in 2012 and to make sure that the next time we ask ourselves, ‘What am I trying to accomplish?’, we have an answer and a plan to make it happen.

This post did its job after all.

Have a wonderful New Year’s everyone! Enjoy your celebrations, please be safe and whatever you do, I’d appreciate it if you could refrain from using kazoos.

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Comments 84

  1. Fatima

    Okay so I’ve officially cyber stalked you for two whole days now. For the purposes of making myself sound as harmless as I actually I am though, I’m going to call it “research.” 🙂

    Seriously. I discovered your blog yesterday morning (or was it the day before? I can’t remember how long I’ve been on your site, that’s how much research I’ve been doing!) and I’ve been on it every since. My poor laptop needs a break and needs me to shut it down for a bit. I feel as if I’ve traveled the world with you and been a part of your crazy, amazing, wacky journey.

    It makes me a feel a little less alone to hear you be so introspective. I know it was the end of the year when you wrote this, but I’ve been feeling this way for so long that I no longer need it to be December to jump in the conversation. So, not really sure what my point is. I guess I just wanted to say thank you for…being introspective?

    (It’s 3 am where I am, roughly the equivalent of the end of December. I’m hoping that makes this comment a little less weird for you, especially considering that you don’t really know me 🙂 ).

    1. Wandering Earl

      Hey Fatima – Hope you got some sleep eventually and don’t worry, that wasn’t too weird of a comment. You had me smiling as well as I read it!

  2. Christine

    P.S. Christine here again (TravelDish) On wanting to expand your music, I could probably help you with that, as music is another passion of mine. I follow a lot of independent artists and LOVE live shows. Email me and let me know what kind of music you like or if you are open to anything and I will send you some suggestions to listen to. I love to share music and discover new artists, so if you were seious about this one, humor me! For starters check out Joshua Radin, Harper Blynn, and Ingrid Michaelson! Enjoy. 🙂

  3. Christine

    I loved your list…yes, I am reading a bit of your blog each day, along with HoleintheDonut (which is worth checking out if you haven’t already), as they are my favorites and they inspire me and get me excited for my coming travels. I am also confused, but I won’t get into that here except to say if we think we have it all figured out we are probably far worse off than if we are still questioning things. I do want to respond to a few of your list items however. This may be a bit personal, but you shave your armpits? Why? Also, I doubt it is necessary for you to pluck your eyebrows either. On wanting to guide someone through India, I may try to take you up on that one day. I REALLY want to explore India and I think it is a place, as a woman I may want to go with another person (male or female). I also think it can be wonderful discovering a place on your own, but at times it is nice to see it through the eyes of someone who already has so much knowledge, passion and love for the place. Finally, you ask, “How can I use the knowledge I’ve learned over the years in a way that benefits as many people as possible?” I have to say this Blog is a FANTASTIC start. As a person who lived aborad and traveled for 5 years, your experiences, even the rougher ones encourage people who dream to just do it. Your continued positive attitude and wonderlust, love for people and culture really come through in your stories here. I don’t know anything about you other than what you have written here, but if you are half the man you come across as in this blog, I am sure you are spreading the same kind of feeling and encouragement out in the world in person too. I look forward to the day when I can do that again myself. Happy travels Earl and happy (very) belated New Year!

    Best,
    Christine (TravelDish)

    1. Earl

      Hey Christine – Thank you as always for your positive feedback as that is definitely something that helps me maintain my motivation to continue working hard on this site! As for the armpit shaving, I actually wrote a post about it: Do You Shave Your Underarms Too?

      With the eyebrows, I of course don’t need to but I kind of like it. As a long-term traveler, this lifestyle can be quite rough on the body and that is just one silly way that helps me feel a bit ‘cleaner’ I guess. I’m not someone who obsesses about my looks or anything like that but being happy with how I look in the mirror does give me an added boost of confidence when I set out each day to explore whatever destination I may be visiting 🙂

      1. Christine

        Well, then why stop?! You should do whatever makes you feel good and I do think that is important. I have my eyebrows waxed (or threaded depending on the day and my location) and as a woman, I definitely shave my armpits. And I wouldn’t feel very good if I didn’t do it either. I just read that post and it made me giggle and smile so hard my face hurt. Thanks for that! The funny thing is when I was younger I remember suggesting it to male friends as a reason why they smell and we (a couple of us girls) didn’t when sweating. My theory was that the deodorant wouldn’t even get past the hair. I was being silly, but that came flooding back, as I read your post. Those guys dismissed me and laughed. I hadn’t thought of that in years, and I can completely understand your reasoning!

        Like you I am not obsessed with my looks either, as I rarely wear make-up and let my hair dry naturally most days, but those things are important to me, along with pedicures. I guess I have a bit of a double standard there, as far as letting hair grow naturally for men vs. grooming. I blame my childhood crush on Magnum P.I. 😉

        I will send you an email with some music I suggest. You will have to let me know what you think.

  4. Kathryn

    okay I’m adding that to my bucket list, when I finally go traveling after I graduate I will see where your at, go there, just to greet you with a kazoo… haha. well maybe not but the thought makes me giggle. anyways when the new year came around I chopped off my hair… about a foot of it, just gone! I felt it was a time to let go of the past and focus on the now. Plus everyone thought my new look was super cute! Yay for me. 😛 maybe you’ve been doing the traveling thing for too long, even constant change can be monotonous. Maybe you should go see the Dalai Lama in New Delhi, take a vow of silence, and practice that sand art thing to find inner peace and discover your true path. That’s what I would do, course… that’s just one of the many things I want to do. 😀 Though would you be breaking your vow of silence by blogging?? I bet that’s a new one for the monks lol

    1. Earl

      Hey Kathryn – Oh no, I need to follow your movements closely so that I can avoid you and your kazoo! And thanks for the suggestion…I actually have gone to McLeod Ganj, India (the village where the Dalai Lama lives) several times, especially when I needed some peace and quiet and time to myself. So perhaps I need to make another trip there 🙂

      But yes, the blogging thing doesn’t go too well with silence!

  5. Leanna

    Hi Earl,

    I just stumbled upon your blog yesterday and have only left for a few hours to go to the gym. I did a full year of travel around SE Asia in 2011, with many amazing experiences, but none more life changing than Plum Village in the south of France. After reading this article I thought you might need a place to chill and reflect. For so many reasons I could go on and on about I would highly recommend a time out at Plum Village. Meeting people from all over the world, the amazing talks by Thich Nhat Hanh, playing music, even the banjo 😉 having time to reflect and gain clarity about the future…etc. It’s a modern Buddhist community unlike anything I could ever imagine experiencing, and in the beautiful French countryside! 1 hr train ride from Bordeaux! Mental and physical paradise. I plan to stop in for a few weeks each year. My next stop will be Bali 🙂

    1. Earl

      Hey Leanna – I appreciate the suggestion and I’ll have to check it out. I’ve never heard of Plum Village before but it does sound like an ideal place to just relax and recharge, something I’ll definitely need to do shortly 🙂

  6. DanielaCG

    Hey Earl, you’re in my hometown – Bucharest, yay!! 🙂 It’s where I grew up for the first 16 years of my life & I loved it there, although the winters do get very cold (as you’re finding out now!). I think you will have a lot more fun exploring the city during spring/fall (summers can get pretty hot). I live in Los Angeles now, but I’m seriously considering moving to Playa Del Carmen with my Mexican husband – do you mind if I email you a few questions about Playa?

    1. Earl

      Hey Daniela! The Bucharest winter is more than cold. I’ve never experienced anything quite like it 🙂 And please feel free to send me an email with any questions you have about Playa del Carmen. I’d be more than happy to help out and offer any advice I possibly can!

  7. Ali

    I love that this made me laugh and think hard about my future. I’ve actually been thinking about my future and what I want to accomplish in 2012 a lot lately. It’s sort of that whole “what do you wanna be when you grow up” kind of thing, except that I’m already in my 30s. What do I want out of life? Travel and happiness are about all I can come up with, but it’s a good start I think.

    Please post pictures if you grow the afro again 🙂

  8. Steve C

    Earl,

    Back again as this is one of the most important posts you’ve proposed for your readers in awhile. In re-reading your list, I’ve gleaned several of your thoughts that together, indicate the path of your life that would most serve you and the world. I’ve checked #’s 3,15,20,22,27 &30. This is only my opinion but I think your path in life should be to continue traveling the world as a long term traveler to satisfy your personal lifestyle and for your gift to the world, be the first person story teller that encourages people to start traveling.

    #’s 3, 15 & 30 are statements that reveal what makes you happy and leaves you at peace.
    #’s 20, 22 & 27 are the questions. I believe the answers to these three are the directions to the path that will benefit both world peace and your personal peace.

    Please continue your Web Site & Blogs. Link yourself so that when anyone “Google’s” anything close to travel, you pop up. Your Blog should continue to give people your experiences of world travel and your Web Site should continue to show them how it’s done. You’re good at what you do, don’t stop now. Keep making lists. Never think you’ve ever come up with your last good idea.

    With that as your main focus, I also encourage keeping your life spontaneous. #8 can be satisfied with #’s 5, 10 & 18, or maybe even #24. (see, you should have numbered your list instead of just using bullets)

    At any rate, the answer to #1 is a blend of #23 and #15. There are several good travel writers out in the world, of which you are one. You may need a published book to put yourself on the map. But, as technology leaps in bounds, a book may be a thing of the past. Your goal is to get as many people as possible to see the benefits of long term world travel because it’s good for them and the whole world! No Pressure! lol

    Have a prosperous and adventurous New Year!

    PS: In between doing what you do, get yourself onto radio & TV talk shows talking travel. Get syndicated with as many publications both on-line and in print as you can. Or not.

  9. charmine

    What a list this is! I’ve been doing some thinking of my own lately…looking forward to a year of travel to new places and many a happy day. You have traveled far and wide and have so much to offer.Hope you have a wonderful year ahead and may you prosper with this travel lifestyle.

    1. Earl

      Hey Jeff – Istanbul is just one of those cities that you can’t help walking around in complete awe all the time. Between the incredible architecture everywhere, the food, the beautiful layout of the city, the markets, the shisha cafes and tea houses, the fortresses and mosques and on and on, a traveler will never be bored. And with the nightlife, relaxed atmosphere for such a big city and friendly people, I always find myself wanting to stick around for a long time. It’s a city that one can easily see themselves living in!

  10. Linda

    Weird. As I read “I really do enjoy eating soft cheese” I was stuffing a piece of toast laden with soft cheese into my mouth. Needless to say I agree.

    I think I agree with everything you say, in fact. I just hit a big birthday, which is not something which normally bothers me, but gave me pause for thought this time, so it’s an ongoing, lifelong thing. Sometimes we need to make adjustments, other times simply confirm we are on the right track.

    One thing I know – whatever you do I’m going to enjoy reading about it!

    1. Earl

      Hey Linda (fellow soft cheese lover!) – I think that having those moments of reflection are important and it’s not all about changing the path we’re on. Sometimes we just need to confirm, like you said, that we are indeed heading the direction we want. But if we don’t stop and check every now and then, the chance of losing our way is greater!

      And I’m honestly happy to know that you’ll still be following along in 2012 🙂

  11. Indrani

    You should also look up something called “Saturn return” if you haven’t already – around the age of 29.5 yrs, lots of folks start having a bit of a crisis about next life steps. It’s an astrological phenomena if you’re into that sort of thing, but for me it helped explain a lot of things even if I don’t normally subscribe to it anymore.

  12. Indrani

    To address your point about doing a one-month meditation retreat – have you ever done a Vipassana? I haven’t read all your posts, but you might get a lot out of it, especially with your ponderings. Of course there’s lots of types of month-long retreats out there.

    1. Earl

      Hey Indrani – I have done 2 Vipassana courses in the past, both of which I enjoyed and thought were well worth it. So probably I would do a one-month version of that at some point this year…and happy new year to you as well!

      And I’ll look into the Saturn return thing too, although, I’m definitely not in a crisis, just normal human confusion that I think affects everyone, every year 🙂

  13. TravelingFirefighter

    Hi Earl,

    I applaud you for your honesty and putting yourself “out” there. Ultimately, you need to do what makes you happy and gives you the most satisfaction.

    Personally, the selfish part of me hopes you’ll do the “show people around India (or Thailand, or wherever)”. I’m not sure, but I suspect there are people out there that would love to travel overseas but are uncomfortable doing it solo. A small, friendly group, led by you, reasonably priced, might be appealing and might be the nudge needed for some to get traveling. Keep it casual, flexible, and who knows, you might be on to something. This might not be your cup of tea, though, since your prefer solo travel.

    Good luck,

    TravelingFirefighter@yahoo.com

    1. Earl

      @TravelingFirefighter: Actually, it is exactly what I’d love to do (to lead small informal groups overseas) as helping others get out there and travel makes me even happier than when I’m traveling on my own somewhere. I’ve received a few emails of interest about this idea as well so it’s now on the final list of projects to work on for 2012. Thanks so much for that extra ‘push’ 🙂

      Hope you had a great new years celebration!!

  14. Sharon Miro

    1. You can hold that silent retreat any time anywhere.
    2. No to the ‘fro. Too much work.
    3. Gladys’ voice is spectacular, but don’t forget she had the Pips
    4. Laughter is theonly thing that should break the silence.
    5. Good soft cheese can be a life’s work
    …and there is more…but you know that.

    Please tell me about Istanbul. It keeps sending me emails.

    1. Earl

      Hey Sharon – Ha, thanks for those points and luckily, the new year has started off with a great deal of laughter so far! As for Istanbul, it is one of those cities that needs to be experienced, not for 2 or 3 days, but for at least 1-2 weeks, in order to realize how fascinating and appealing of a place it really is. I’ll be writing some more posts about it over the coming month I believe, and just might be heading there again in January as well, so there will be more info on the site shortly.

      In the meantime, if you have any specific questions about the city or Turkey in general, feel free to send me an email and I’d be more than happy to answer!

    1. rose

      oh, and Happy New Year!!! (Sorry, the jet lag is still affecting my brain function… at least that’s my excuse… I’m sure it’s not those few glasses of champagne with lunch…. Vive la France!)

  15. Travis

    You know, I find that prioritizing this kind of list provides a lot of direction. I always write everything down then use my computer to move things around. I suppose Tim Ferriss would suggest something along these lines, probably adding the elimination of time devouring junk as part of his DEAL/DELA acronym! Not a bad place to start anyways.. right now I’m nine days from Australia and looking at about a million different job possibilities that range from picking fruit everyday to working on offshore oil rigs week on, week off. I figure it’s just a matter of going down the list and seeing what works out best. Things are always different on paper than in reality!

    1. Earl

      Hey Travis – It does help to see the options and ideas in front of you. Somehow it makes them all a little more ‘real’ and enables us to determine much more quickly if they are goals or ideas we want to pursue or what seems like the best option. At least for Australia, you do have plenty of options for jobs so I’m sure that you’ll find the best match in the end. And nothing is permanent of course, you can always change your mind at any time.

      Safe travels!

  16. Tim Richards

    Totally agree that this is the right time of the year to be thinkling about the future, and there’s nothing wrong or abnormal about having swirling masses of uncertainty in your mind as you do so. Hey, there’s plenty of time for being certain when you’re dead.

    If you don’t mind me doing so, I’m going to attempt a little armchair psychology re all those thoughts you shared.

    I think your subconscious might be suggesting that as much as you’ve enjoyed the near-constant travel, it might be time to tentatively establish a home in one place – and find a new way to both enjoy the positives that come with having a settled base, and still travel.

    Some of those other random thoughts suggest you want to (and would probably be good at) sharing your travel expertise as a guide in some way. You’re a social guy who obviously loves sharing your travel know-how, so it wouldn’t be a big jump to see you as a guide taking travellers to places around the globe (including places with soft cheese, of course).

    It would be an evolution of what you do now, perhaps, rather than a break – as you could still be travelling widely and frequently, and still writing your blog.

    Anyway, just my superficial reading of those random thoughts! Whatever you decide to do, I hope you have a great 2012. Next time you’re in Melbourne, remember to get in touch.

    Tim

    1. Earl

      Hey Tim – I’d say that’s quite spot on and the key word is definitely ‘evolution’. That’s the tricky part for me, to find a way to transition to a traveling lifestyle that also gives me more time to establish myself in other areas and achieve some other goals. And of course, one way to do this would be to have a more permanent base so that I always have a comfortable place to go and work on my ideas, without worrying about the normal things that travelers worry about while always on the go.

      I’m confident that 2012 will lead me in this direction and hopefully I’ll be able to find that perfect balance…that’s the plan anyway!

      And when I do end up back in Melbourne, you can be sure I’ll be in touch. Have a wonderful New Year Tim (which I believe you are about to have in just a few hours from now)!

  17. Pingback: 2011 You Were Good To Me | Abi At Play

  18. Osvaldo

    Hi. What I want from 2012 is to have free ebooks and yours Earl would be a good ones to have 😀

    just kidding, lol

    Seriously, In my case I think I fullfilled some personal goal with my spanish blog: by having a community, although it’s a little one, but it’s a community nevertheless 🙂

    I hope in 2012 to get more of my blog, monetizing it in a serious way like you do.

    Keep up the good work and happy 2012 🙂

    1. Earl

      Hey Osvaldo – It all begins with a small community so I’m sure it will continue to grow and your goals will be achieved! In the meantime, enjoy your New Years and I wish you all the best for the coming year!

    1. Earl

      Hey David – We definitely talked about it in SA. I first heard about it from a reader a few months ago and ever since, I have been more than intrigued. As soon as Yemen starts issuing tourist visas again, I’m there! Don’t tell me, you’ve been already???

  19. Matthew Cheyne

    The one month silent retreat would probably do you wonders. It would give you a whole month to ponder things and give you new insights that you probably never had before.

    Don’t ponder too hard though and don’t take yourself too seriously when you do ponder and as you and I both know try and remain in the present moment.

    That said having a good think about where your life is headed is only a natural and healthy thing. I had an early onset mid life crisis at the age of 29 and I began to question everything in my life. I quickly came out of the mid life crisis but the very act of questioning where I was heading and whether I was doing the things that were making me happy was crucial in making me the happier person that I am today.

    Every person is unique just as every path trodden is unique. I wish you well as you ponder what your plans are going to be and I wish you whatever is you do, a happy, safe and peaceful 2012.

    1. Steve C

      Matthew, 29 is not midlife! May I give you a reprieve? In this day and age, you’ve got at least another 15 years to reach midlife. What you had was a one-third crisis; way, way early onset for halfway! Ponder that and smile. Now go back and have a good time before the real crisis hits you. lol
      It’s too bad that it takes some people half their life to finally realize they’re on the wrong track. You were lucky/smart, in that you did your deep thinking early in life. Actually, some people never do get it! By your post, I can tell that you’ve pondered well.
      And with that, I wish everyone a successful ponder in 2012!

    2. Earl

      Hey Matthew – I’ve done a couple 10 day silent retreats and always thought that a 1 month one would be the next step. I also look at it as a challenge and want to see if I could make it through…

      And I feel the same way about the need to question what we are doing in order to ensure that we are headed in the right direction. With so much distraction out there, it’s remarkably easy to lose our way and quickly forget what our true goals are in life. And the only way to get pack on track is to take a break, stop whatever we’re doing and spend time focusing on what we are really trying to achieve.

      Have a great New Year’s and thank you as always for your comments on this site!

  20. Clive Kelsey

    This is what i would like to see happen through traveling. I copied this from an introduction assignment from my World Religions class; the question was (what is your world view?), you might find it interesting.

    To start out I will explain where I was and what I was doing when I first realized what my world view was. It happened this summer during my two week vacation to Costa Rica with my mom and two of my friends. Im happy to say that we took part in some cheesy tourist activities while we were there. On the fourth day there we went zip-lining through the canopy. Later on that day i happened to see one of the employees from the zip-line adventure, and stopped to talk to him for a while. I asked him, since he was always around tourists, if he ever travelled out of the country him self. I was shocked sympathetic to hear him say that he had never left his tiny country and probably never would. He said that it was far too expensive to aquire a visa and all of the other paper work that would be needed to leave the country. And at a minimum wage of (three US dollars) an hour its hard to see why traveling is way out of the picture for the average Costa Rican.
    My vision of a perfect world, is a world where traveling is more accessible to a greater percent of the population of the world. Traveling teaches you so much about people and cultures that a teacher could never do. I don’t just want prices of flights to go down, I want it to be easier for people to get time of of work. Americans in particular work way too much, at the average job you can only get 2 weeks off in an entire year, and what does that do? A big part of the problem is the media, making other countries look dangerous to Americans and the fact that taking time off of work is seen as a sign of weakness.We could really take some tips from England who has a one month paid leave from work for its people. You only have one life, make the most of it. To sum it all up I would like to see in my life time more opportunity for people to travel, no matter what there economic status is. Traveling is just as important as school is, it can erase unfortunate stereotypes that countries have and ever change the way you vote on different subjects to make the world a better place.

    1. Earl

      Hey Clive – Thanks so much for sharing that with us and I’m quite sure that all of us would want to see such opportunities open up for a greater percentage of the world population. Also, the benefits of travel are clear and I agree fully that there should be more of a focus on encouraging people to travel instead of giving them a simple 2 weeks of holiday per year.

      Let us hope that in 2012 some steps, even small steps, are taken to help make these changes in mindset a reality!

  21. M

    I miss Mitch too. 🙁
    I loved how he was so painfully shy, but still he bravely got up there and did his thing anyway. (and made us laugh our asses off in the process!)
    Anyway, I just wanted to say that I enjoyed your post. It was refreshing, exciting and amusing to read your list. I am happy to join the quest for an amazing 2012!
    PS: It would be really cool if you offered tours of your favorite places. You seem like the kind of guy who could really do something unique in that arena!

    1. Earl

      Hey M – Welcome to the quest! And I’m glad to hear that a few people like the idea of me offering tours to certain places. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while but just never put into action. Perhaps 2012 is the year!

    1. Earl

      Hey Jeremy – It probably is the key as I have tend to have much more clarity with that thing on my head! It does take a couple of years to grow so I guess I better get started 🙂

  22. Robert Michael

    At this moment, my nieces’s dog stares at me with a sort of benevolent wonder. It seems as though, with his eyes alone, that he is affirming my ever growing desire for travel. It leaves me feeling a bit uneasy, though. Is it fear of the unknown? Or, concern that I will lose my place in the rat race? Then, it dawns on me. Westley Benjamin looks like a fruit bat.

    Anyway, my list was created at this time last year while in the hospital, recovering from major organ failure brought on by rhabdomiolysis (Google it). Due to the subsequent compartment syndrome in my legs, I lost 1 muscle and damaged several others. At that time, the outcome of all of this was uncertain and my complete recovery was put into question. That’s when I made my list.

    Now, I look back on my recovery and feel blessed that, one year later, I can walk, run, bike and hike. The list now makes perfect sense. In March, I leave for Chiang Mai to set up base camp and begin the journey I should have started years ago.

    Thank you Earl for the inspiration and personal encouragement.

    Go with the Fro, Bro!

    1. Earl

      Hey Robert – That’s quite a story and turnaround and I can’t tell you how happy to hear of the outcome and your plans! And even if you should have begun the journey years ago, you are still way ahead of the game as in the end, most people give up on their travel goals eventually and never take the leap.

      And Chiang Mai is such a good place to start. I just might show up there again myself at some point in 2012, and this time, I’ll be sporting the afro because of your comment!

      I wish you such a wonderful New Year and again, I’m thrilled to hear about your recovery and your incredible plans for the future!

  23. Steve C

    This is the End, and also the Beginning! Time to quit cutting bait and start fishing. I am an addicted list maker. In fact, I enjoy making lists of all types, not just things “To Do”, but where to go, what to do along with what to buy at the grocery store on my next visit.
    List making is therapeutic. I find that relaxing on my front deck, making lists is about as satisfying (mind travel) as actually doing the things on the lists. At my age (about 2/3 to the end) I realize that there will come a time when the only lists that I’ll be making are the “Things I wished I’d done”. I hope those will be very short lists.
    I did two years of list making, planning and saving for four years of traveling at the 1/3 stage in my life. Now, a few more years of working, saving and planning will allow me to again pack my pack and travel off into the sunset for as long as I can mentally and physically handle long term travel.
    New years are a good time to re-evaluate one’s goals. Make a list, such as you did, then hover above and try to find the common denominator of all your thoughts. Then, shift gears and go for it.

    1. Earl

      Hey Steve – Thanks for that very motivational comment! By the time I got to the end I was ready to write a few more lists and start working on my goals immediately. And as you know, I also believe that the lists of regrets that we’ll write/think about when we reach the end are the most important lists because if they are not very, very short, then we somehow lost our way during our life.

      Can’t wait to meet you out here somewhere once you begin your traveling ways again!

  24. Heather Rae

    Love this. You are most definitely not alone. I’m fairly sure if I were to take 15 minutes and write down all of the random thoughts and questions in my head, people would think I was a bit nuts too! Of course, I’m pretty sure they already do if they read my blog. Let’s make 2012 an awesome one!

    1. Earl

      Hey Heather – Now that makes me feel much better! I’m also starting to think that we’re all nuts, every single one of us, and so it’s only natural that such a community gets along so well….

  25. Adam Mayfield

    I’ve recently been doing a lot of thinking myself. Or soul searching, or planning, or what ever you’d like to call it. I know for my 2012 my main goal is starting my online web dev business so I can start bring in some online income which will hopefully allow me to start traveling more in 2013.

    As for your list of thoughts, I agree with several. I miss Mitch too. As for being on TV, I have no desire but I do want to shoot and produce a documentary based around travel. Once I start to travel more (with any luck in 2013) I’ll start filming.

    For right now, I’m just working a regular old job, socking away my pennies, trying to starting something, and planning for the future.

    Here’s to your sir, keep on traveling and living the life you want to live!

    1. Earl

      Hey Adam – It certainly seems like you have a good plan you’re working on so I shall look forward to meeting you out here on the road at some point! Keep working on those goals. Despite the challenges, once it all clicks and you achieve that freedom you’re looking for, every moment of frustration will prove to have been well worth it!

  26. Mark Wiens

    Awesome and interesting thoughts Earl! Whatever adventures may arise in 2012, I wish you all the best…and know it will be just as spontaneous and filled with wonderful curries as previous years!

    I’m confused as well (and don’t have much idea what I’m doing), but in 2012, I’m going to plug away at some goals and hopefully accomplish them!

    1. Earl

      Hey Mark – A year filled with wonderful curries, even average curries, is a good year for me. Maybe that was the issue this year as I definitely ate far less curry than normal!

      I hope you sort through the confusion as well and that you achieve those goals you’ve set for yourself. Let’s make 2012 a kick-ass year for both of us!

  27. Linda, I'd rather be traveling

    Perging is good, mind chatter is distructive, I like to write things down, just so I don’t shrug it off and remember what I like/want. It gets it out of my mind for the time being. I forget what “I” as I am surrounded by demands which I have accepted thru motherhood, marriage, and being a daughter.
    I am 56 years old, I’ve had a wonderful travel career before getting into the family/marriage role. You know when you are just where you belong…..if not, then make the change. The pain of change is less then the pain of remaining the same.
    I wish you good health, lots of laughter as you surround yourself with what/who you love. Bring it on……good bye 2011, H E L L O 2012!!

    1. Earl

      Hey Linda – Hello 2012 is right! And I completely agree that the pain of change is much, much less than the pain of remaining in a situation where you don’t belong or feel is right. Many unfortunately feel the opposite.

      Well, wishing you a happy and safe New Years to you and your family and please know that I continue to appreciate your presence on this site!

  28. Someday I'll Be There - Mina

    Earl this is a very nice post..fulfills my dream of having a gift to read people’s minds haha 😀
    I know I’m much younger than you but I’ve had a similar mind confusion state about my future as well, if you have the time for it I may suggest you go on a trip to Spain and walk El Camino de Santiago, trust me you will have the serenity, the time, and the right mood to think about it all. Plus you will meet the right people that will inspire you alot! Worked perfectly for me!

    Well hopefully 2012 will be a good year.
    Wishing you all the best 😉
    Happy new year 🙂

    1. Earl

      Hey Mina – That is definitely a trip that is on my list. I’ll probably wait until warmer weather of course but I’ll make it happen eventually. I read about El Camino in a book when I was a young kid and ever since then I have wanted to walk the route. And happy New Year to you as well!!!

      1. Indrani

        I’ve wanted to do the Camino for more than a decade now, and right at the moment I can’t (I had the opportunity to do it a few years ago – should have taken it, d’oh!), but I know I definitely will within the next few years.

  29. Daniela

    Earl,

    I enjoyed reading your post but I must say I don’t agree with it entirely. I have found out through personal experience that writing down “to do/to achieve” things for the new year/future etc. is not very helpful. Life has a mind of its own, completely independent from ours. And if the year or specific set time frame passes without you doing those things that you put down on paper at some point, for whatever reason, you will only end up feeling even more disappointed with yourself. After doing such things (at first they always seem like a good idea, very motivational) I have always felt more of a looser. Until one day I have realized that I am not a looser, I just have the wrong manner of approach. Since that day I’m sailing in the direction of the wind and not against it.

    1. Earl

      Hey Daniela – While I do agree with what you are saying to an extent, especially about life having a mind of its own, I do think that without knowing what you are trying to achieve, then it is also quite easy for the days to just pass by without doing anything meaningful. There needs to be some specific ideas and goals to set your mind to, to keep the mind active and to ensure that even as you move with the wind, you continue doing what it is most important and what you love most in life. And on the other side, if you do have a list of certain goals and you actually achieve them, there is no better feeling and you gain an extra boost of confidence and motivation to continue achieving even more life goals!

  30. Kate

    Love it! You blog about the joys of travel and new cultures is one of the things that helped motivate me to take a new job on the tiny island of Saipan. While I won’t be able to travel a lot while working at the job, I have thoughts about where I may be able to bounce from there after! 🙂 And this post again reinforces that – it’s a dream and goal of mine to spend some time out of the rat race, and breaking out of my societal bubble. Bring on 2012!

    1. Earl

      Hey Kate – You’ll have plenty of places to bounce to after Saipan and I like your attitude towards 2012! You’re ready for the adventures to come and I can’t wait to hear all about them…enjoy New Year’s in Saipan!!

    1. Earl

      Hey Stephanie – Thank you! For a minute I thought that nobody raised their hand after all 🙂 Well, into 2012 we go…let’s get excited about the possibilities and achieve some goals!

  31. Dalene

    Pete and I are about to go into a 5 day yoga retreat (and technology detox!) over the new year. We may even impose some silent meditation if we start driving each other too crazy without our usual distractions. 🙂

    I hope a few of your questions/thoughts above get answered for us as well. It will be interesting to see what we all come up with!

    1. Earl

      Hey Dalene – That sounds like a perfect way to start the New Year and I certainly hope that it does lead to some answers for you guys. Just be careful with the silent meditation as it gets quite addicting. The next thing you know you’ll go weeks without speaking to each other!

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