Broken Bones, Handcuffs & Other Goals

Broken Bones, Handcuffs & Other Goals

By |2016-07-21T23:57:03+00:00April 12th, 2011|Everything Else|52 Comments

SkinnyWhen I was a freshman in high school, I remember the day when a good friend of mine broke his ankle and showed up to school with his leg in a cast. In the 15 years I had been alive at that point, I had never broken any part of my body and so, upon seeing my friend, I couldn’t help but wonder what it felt like to break a bone. In fact, I spent most of that school day wondering how it must feel and I didn’t stop thinking about it after school either. That night, moments before I went to bed, I even took it so far as to wish that I would break a bone myself. I wasn’t looking for a major break, like a leg or collarbone, just a minor one, so that I could get a taste of such an injury.

Two days later I broke my wrist while playing basketball.


When I was 17 years old and still in high school, another one of my friends was arrested one night for fighting during our town’s annual Portuguese Festival. In front of hundreds of people he was cuffed by the police and carted off to the police station where he spent most of the night in jail. And being my curious self, I immediately began to wonder what it must feel like to get arrested. Of course, I didn’t really want to get arrested, but I once again couldn’t help making a wish that night, wishing that I could somehow feel what it was like to spend a night in jail.

One week later I was arrested.

My arrest took place at a large Saturday night party that was broken up by the police and where I committed those typical teenager crimes of being a minor transporting liquor and public drinking.

And even though my crimes were quite insignificant, I certainly got a taste of what it’s like to be arrested. I was slammed against a car, handcuffed and forced to stand in the middle of the car park as dozens of cars, full of my fellow high school attendees, drove by one by one. I was then transported to the police station where I was given my one phone call and then tossed in a cell for 5 hours, where there was nothing to do but sit on a hard bench, just staring at the wall.

I even had to appear in court that Monday, where, luckily, I was slapped with only a minor fine after receiving a stern lecture from the judge.


So why on earth was I thinking about my broken wrist and my night in jail?

Well, when I left Mexico almost a year ago in order to travel around the Middle East, I remember quite well the day I packed up my belongings and moved out of my small apartment here in Playa del Carmen. I remember it so well because, as I drove away for the last time that day, I set a goal for myself. If I were to ever find myself living in Playa del Carmen again, I wanted to be able to afford a more comfortable lifestyle.

I’m not talking about a luxurious lifestyle, not at all. I’m merely talking about one in which my apartment would be a little more spacious, the kitchen a little more suitable for cooking and the living room consisting of more than one chair. Consider it a slight upgrade, one that I often kept in mind while slaving away on my computer ever since.

Now, here I am, back in Mexico, having just decided to spend the next couple of months living by the beach once again. And sure enough, the hard work and lack of sleep and the determination to work on new project ideas over the past 10 months have paid off. My apartment this time around is exactly what I wanted (and it even has a swimming pool!).

Apartment in Playa del Carmen

The simple point is that if we don’t wish, if we don’t dream, if we don’t imagine or believe every single day in the goals we want to achieve (both big and small goals), we might as well not even have those goals in the first place. There’s often more to it of course, such as endless hours of dedication and battling a steady stream of obstacles, but having the right mindset is where it all begins.

I used to spend many nights lying awake, able to do nothing but wish for and dream about living a lifestyle in which I could travel around the world, wherever and whenever I wanted. It certainly took a ridiculous amount of work to get there, but had I never spent so much time believing that it was possible, I’d be back home right now wondering what my life could have been like.

So there you go. If you’re unable to buy that plane ticket to Buenos Aires or Bangkok just yet, or take off for that 6 month trip you’ve been dreaming of, whatever you do, don’t stop dreaming. If you stop believing that you will be on that plane one day, you’ll never make it.

Always remember, you too can get arrested if you really want to.

(On another note, if anyone is headed to Playa del Carmen, I might be able to help you find a suitable apartment as I’m now familiar with every single accommodation option in town after my recent apartment hunting session!)


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  1. 'Round the world ticket | Lape Soetan September 14, 2011 at 4:06 pm - Reply

    […] Earl talks about the relationship between broken bones and reaching your goals […]

  2. Carlos April 16, 2011 at 8:34 am - Reply

    We need pictures of the pool Earl!

    Mexico is on my itinerary now also. Next thurs I’m off to San Miquel de Allende for a weekend visiting friends. I think they are starving for company from familiar faces. Then the first weekend in May I’m off on a short driving adventure going from Guadalajara to Manzanillo/Barra de Navidad.

    If only the whole work-thing didn’t get in the way 🙂 They require that I show up in the office now and then, jaja.

    • Earl April 16, 2011 at 11:55 am - Reply

      Hey Carlos – Haha…yeah, work obligations tend to be less flexible than we hope for. Good to hear you’re getting some Mexico time in this spring. I’ve put San Miguel de Allende on my list of places to visit in the next couple of months as well.

      And the swimming pool photo is soon to come. I didn’t want to go overboard with this post!

  3. optionsdude April 14, 2011 at 10:48 pm - Reply

    Very nice place you have there in Mexico. I too was attracted by the title and wondered what I might be getting myself into when starting to read, but I like the point of the entire post.

    Maybe you should wonder what it would be like to have one of your readers win the Powerball lottery. Maybe someone whose name rhymes with vicissitude.

    • Earl April 15, 2011 at 1:52 pm - Reply

      @optionsdude: Haha…I hope you don’t mind but I altered your idea and wondered what it would be like for a reader, perhaps the one you mentioned, to split the Powerball lottery winnings with me instead 🙂

  4. Erin April 14, 2011 at 7:43 pm - Reply

    You are making it more difficult to decide what to do later in the year! We need a place to settle and work for 3+ months and although we really want to explore the rest of Central America and Mexico, Asia is calling us. So Chiang Mai vs Playa del Carmen? I’m guessing Chiang Mai has to be a lot cheaper, but those beaches sound good…

    • Earl April 14, 2011 at 8:09 pm - Reply

      Hey Erin – Ha, that’s a question that’s impossible to answer! Chiang Mai is cheaper overall but Mexico is not at all expensive. And Mexico is also a lot closer to where you are now, which would save you some money on flights. And those beaches!! Of course, there’s also a reason why I’ve spent so much time in Chiang Mai over the years as well. You won’t be disappointed either way I’d imagine. Do let me know what you decide…

  5. James April 14, 2011 at 3:49 pm - Reply

    Good post, man.

    I totally agree; before embarking on this present journey, I worked for 6 months while living with my parents. I basically put my life on hold. I didn’t go out, didn’t drink, and didn’t socialize. It sucked but it was necessary. The hard work paid off and I’m planning the summer in Europe (after living in Medellin for several months).

    • Earl April 14, 2011 at 8:05 pm - Reply

      Hey James – You’re the perfect example of what I was talking about! If you want to achieve your goal badly enough, sometimes that goal has to dictate how you lead your life. Living at home is never too fun, but I think everyone would agree that it’s well worth it in order to save up enough money to take off on a worldwide adventure!

  6. Stephanie April 14, 2011 at 2:13 pm - Reply

    I really enjoyed this post. An amusing read with a very good point.

    My travel wish has come true, and I’m six months into my journey. But I don’t think I make many wishes. Maybe I need to start making more, and those will come true too!

    • Earl April 14, 2011 at 2:38 pm - Reply

      Hey Stephanie – There’s no harm in making a few more wishes, although I’m not sure what else you can ask for now that you’re on an extended journey through Latin America 🙂 If you ever make it up to Mexico be sure to let me know!

  7. Kirsten April 14, 2011 at 1:53 pm - Reply

    SO inspirational and I can really relate! Thanks for sharing.

    • Earl April 14, 2011 at 2:35 pm - Reply

      Thank you for commenting Kirsten!

  8. James Clark April 14, 2011 at 5:52 am - Reply

    That old saying “be careful of what you wish for” certainly applies to you! I’m glad to see that you have refined what you wish for these days.

    That living room looks great, I would like to work in such a place 😉

    • Earl April 14, 2011 at 12:16 pm - Reply

      Hey James – Yeah, it’s a good thing I only wished for one night in jail! And that living room is quite a nice work space indeed, as is the balcony and the comfy cafes around the corner 🙂

  9. Jeremy B April 13, 2011 at 1:17 pm - Reply

    Congrats on the new pad Earl! Where to after Playa?

    • Earl April 13, 2011 at 9:22 pm - Reply

      Hey Jeremy – Not sure yet! I plan to be in Vancouver in June, then back to Playa….at which time I’ll start thinking of the next destination!

  10. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures April 13, 2011 at 11:35 am - Reply

    Now I wanta get arrested! 😉

    Broken too many bones in my body to count. Hope I never break another damn one.

    Fabulous looking apartment. ENJOY la dulce vida!!!

    • Earl April 13, 2011 at 9:23 pm - Reply

      Hola Andi – What! You haven’t been arrested before? I guess your broken bone count has made up for that 🙂

  11. Lape April 13, 2011 at 9:17 am - Reply

    Hi Earl,
    I’m glad I stumbled on this post. I’ve seen in my life that if you really wish for something, you sometimes get it. One that comes up in my mind now because it was so random and unusual was when I tweeted that I wondered what sushi tasted like and wanted to try it. Within 3 days, I was eating sushi and didn’t even realise I had gotten my wish so quickly until a few days later. I’ve had many wishes not come true or not happen yet and one thing I always wonder and which no-one has ever been able to answer is ‘how long does it take for a wish to come true?’

    • Earl April 13, 2011 at 9:25 pm - Reply

      Hey Lape – That’s an excellent question and one that I don’t have an answer to. As long as we achieve a goal at some point during our life, I consider that to be a wish come true!

  12. Sabina April 13, 2011 at 4:59 am - Reply

    Those were some very interesting wishes and dreams you had, Earl 😉 It’s amazing how you made them come true for yourself. I mean, I think you really had a hand in it, don’t you? You were probably being a little extra careless or rough after your wish to break a bone, so it broke. You may have made yourself a little more visible and interesting to the police that night rather than bolting from the scene or keeping real quiet, so you were arrested. I don’t want you to take this the wrong way. I mean it only in a positive sense. I think you helped make your dreams come true, even though they weren’t the most palatable of dreams. But your dream of the nicer place in Mexico – that apartment of yours is really, really beautiful 🙂 Yay for you and your goals!

    • Earl April 13, 2011 at 9:40 pm - Reply

      Hey Sabina – I think what you said is spot on. As for being arrested, I remember when I saw the police officer and my friends yelled at me to hurry up and get in the car, I hesitated and began singing out loud, naturally drawing attention to myself. And I’m quite sure this is why the officer chose me out of the 300 hundred people there to arrest! And of course, when it comes to more positive life goals, I have no doubt that we subconsciously make subtle changes that better align with what we’re trying to achieve. That’s why it’s so important to believe fully in what we’re trying to achieve!

  13. Dani | Globetrottergirls April 13, 2011 at 4:55 am - Reply

    Oh, you are back in Playa now for a while?? Well, we can definitely understand why and we will be in touch sooner or later for more apartment rental contacts 😉 That place looks really nice, enjoy your time there & don’t work too hard!

    • Earl April 13, 2011 at 9:32 pm - Reply

      Hey Dani – Are you coming back here too????? I can tell you, this apartment is a step up from Hotel Sol y Playa 🙂

      • Dani | Globetrottergirls April 14, 2011 at 2:48 pm - Reply

        I can see that in the picture!! You have to tell us where exactly it is. We were talking about settling down in Playa for a couple of months at some point to just work and enjoy the beach… not anytime soon though, maybe next year at some point? How long will you be there?

        • Earl April 14, 2011 at 8:03 pm - Reply

          Hey Dani – Not sure how long I’ll be here, but for now I’ll be using this area as a base again. The apartment is located near the corner of Av 25 y Calle 22, just a few minutes walk from La Quinta Avenida, la playa, La Mega y muchos cafes. It’s in the center of the center of town! I really couldn’t have found a better place 🙂

  14. Jeannie April 13, 2011 at 3:53 am - Reply

    Hmmm… I would really like to hide in your closet for realz. 🙂

    I love these kinds of pieces, the ones that make anyone ask why don’t they not just ponder something, but pick it apart, plan for it and reap the rewards.

    Too many only get to the stage of wondering what a broken arm is like.

    • Earl April 13, 2011 at 9:44 pm - Reply

      Hey Jeannie – Yeah, those unfortunate people who only get to wonder about broken bones and nights in jail!

  15. Natalie April 13, 2011 at 1:09 am - Reply

    Love the new apartment Earl! Afternoon cocktails around the swimming pool maybe?!

    • Earl April 13, 2011 at 9:32 pm - Reply

      Absolutely Natalie! It’s an open invititation 🙂

  16. Caz Makepeace April 13, 2011 at 12:20 am - Reply

    Love this Earl! Was so what I needed to hear today. If you don’t have the big dreams then you’ll never get off your couch. You have to have them and believe in them.
    Getting there takes a lot of hard work, which is why I always get so annoyed when people tell me I am lucky. That is just their excuse as to why they can’t do the same.
    Craig and I have always found it easy to bring our travels to reality. There are other aspects to our dreams that we are finding difficult to manifest. The big dream keeps us moving forward. Your post today has reminded me that it can happen and it will.

    • Earl April 13, 2011 at 9:58 pm - Reply

      Hey Caz – I feel the same way about that word ‘lucky’. It’s such an easy way to avoid responsibility for taking control of our own lives and the goals we want to achieve. And having those grand goals in life provides us with the motivation we need every single day when we sit down to work. It helps me focus when times are tough, knowing that I am working, step by step, towards the achievement of my dreams! I’m glad to hear this post helped you refocus a little 🙂

  17. Ailene April 12, 2011 at 10:54 pm - Reply

    Great post! I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, but this is the first time to comment. 🙂

    I’m raring to go and travel the world, but life, work and the dire state of my finances won’t allow me to. This blog post reminded me to be patient, to work hard, and to hold on to my dreams. Thank you!

  18. Pat Chiappa April 12, 2011 at 6:49 pm - Reply

    wow – your post was a reminder of how powerful our thoughts are. Just imagine how powerful our spoken words are! Talk about creative visualization…
    Thanks for sharing – and stay out of trouble 🙂

    • Earl April 12, 2011 at 10:56 pm - Reply

      Hey Pat – Luckily, after that one arrest, my life has been trouble free since (in terms of brushes with the law)! And you are indeed correct, we are much more powerful than we think. We just need to convince ourselves of that fact and then use it achieve our wildest goals!

  19. Anthony April 12, 2011 at 3:46 pm - Reply

    Haha I’ve been to military jail if that counts!? Great post Earl, totally what I needed after a crap week at work and questioning my sanity over spending every other second on projects, in order for me to travel.

    *tips hat*

    • Earl April 12, 2011 at 10:52 pm - Reply

      Hey Anthony – Military jail? Not only does that count but that trumps my tiny hometown jail experience any day! And keep up the work, it’s definitely worth it. One day it will all click and the ride will begin to get easier. When I created my first eBook/website, I literally spend over 16 hours per day (7 days per week) working on it for almost 6 months. But when that first sale came through, I took a giant breath and realized that my goals were possible. You’ll get there!

      • Anthony April 13, 2011 at 7:16 am - Reply

        Haha umm yeah, when I was younger I kinda randomly joined the army to mend a broken heart. Then after a year I kinda found out I was really left-wing (More Lennon than Mugabe). Then I kinda rebelled against my whole regiment, refused to do anything then went AWOL. Spent 6 months in Colchester military prison, I never told my mother-she’d have had heart failure!!

        I should write about that experience really 😛 Cheers mate, giving up is never on the cards, but it offers gives great hope to hear you say that!

        • Earl April 13, 2011 at 9:30 pm - Reply

          Hey Anthony – You should definitely write about that experience. I can’t even imagine what that must have been like. 6 months??? I’m sure you didn’t wish for that!

          • Anthony April 14, 2011 at 3:26 am

            Haha well that’s what you get for pissing off the Queen 😛

  20. Sara Gabrakirstos April 12, 2011 at 3:42 pm - Reply

    I completely agree Earl! I am always telling my friends and families that no matter what as long as you hope and dream for the things you want in your life, that means there are still possibilities. And where would we all be without hope and possibility? I really admire that about your post. You dreamt it, knew what you wanted. And it happened, directly or indirectly. Dreaming is important, it tells you what makes you happy. Now that you know, go out and get it!

  21. joshywashington April 12, 2011 at 3:23 pm - Reply

    Congrats on the new digs Earl! Beach living sounds realllly good right now ( cue Seattle rain showers )… I have still yet to break a bone in 29 years, not for lack of trying and I haven’t been arrested, not for lack of opportunity…I guess I am just lucky. I kinda bounce when I hit the ground and cops seem to look past me like I put a Jedi mind spell on them…

    • Earl April 12, 2011 at 10:48 pm - Reply

      @joshywashington: Lucky indeed. Can you teach me how to cast that Jedi mind spell? Actually, I’m quite thankful that my wish resulted in only one arrest and not a string of them! Hang in there with that rain my friend. We could use some rain here in Mexico to cool this place off a little.

  22. Tannia Andrews April 12, 2011 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    I was laughing while reading this, wondering why in the world would you wonder those things. lol.. but anyways I get what you’re saying and I agree 100% with you!! anything we wish/dream can come true if we really want it!!
    I’ll keep in touch for that advise on playa del carmen, I’ll probably go in a few months.
    I’m going to sayulita on summer with my husband and 3 kids, found a good deal!!
    ps. from now on only wish/dream good things ok=)

    • Earl April 12, 2011 at 10:46 pm - Reply

      Hey Tannia – Enjoy Sayulita! That town is still my favorite place that I’ve ever lived and I think about it often. I have no doubt you’re going to love it as well! And when you make it to this side of Mexico, definitely be sure to let me know….

  23. Cam April 12, 2011 at 2:14 pm - Reply

    We look forward to visiting your new digs in late May!

    • Earl April 12, 2011 at 10:53 pm - Reply

      Hey Cam – The bed is made and ready! It will be so nice to meet you guys!

  24. Andrea April 12, 2011 at 12:43 pm - Reply

    Very well said! I’ve always heard that Mexican beaches are a dream to kick back on for months at a time but have yet to make it there. Really like your place!

    • Earl April 12, 2011 at 10:44 pm - Reply

      Hey Andrea – I can highly recommend the beaches in this part of Mexico. To be honest, the white sand beaches between Cancun and Playa del Carmen are some of the most incredible beaches I’ve seen anywhere on the planet!

  25. Ozzy April 12, 2011 at 12:38 pm - Reply

    When I first read the title of the post I was thinking that this was going to be some kind of weird sex situation you found yourself in and were going to tell us about it. Instead I find it is a great piece of advice for everyone. This is how I have lived and done/survived all the things I’ve ever done. When I try to tell people this and they just don’t want to believe it I try a different. I tell them to stop being emo and start being awesome. And if they take that to heart it changes their life. They start doing and experiencing all the things they wanted to do in the first place.

    • Earl April 12, 2011 at 10:43 pm - Reply

      Hey Ozzy – The weird sex situation will be the next post! (joking)

      As you already know, our attitudes are quite similar when it comes to staying motivated in life and I know that you’ve accomplished many of your goals as well simply because you believed in yourself. It’s a great message to pass on and I have no doubt that you’ve motivated many others who you’ve come across in life!

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